Thursday AM January 28th, 2010

The Recovery Act includes expansion of green technologies, and that's benefiting the solar power industry. A New York firm is launching a solar installer franchise program in Houston and other Texas cities. Ed Mayberry reports.

Solar PanelsThe first stimulus package during the Bush administration in October 2008 allocated a 30 percent federal tax credit for the solar industry for residential solar installations.  That tax credit stays in place until 2015.  It's credited with opening up the residential solar installation market.  David Kaltsas is with SunWize, a solar distributor and installer.

"The last presidential election cycle really brought people's awareness of alternative energy not only as a source of energy production, but as a way to protect national security, to create jobs. The American Recovery and Renewal Act that was enacted in February of last year put numerous solar electric projects, renewable energy projects out into the marketplace.  Jobs are starting to be created as a result of those."

The average solar panel was about 80 watts in the 90's, but efficiency has improved by about three times. 

"We've seen significant advances in the conversion efficiencies of the inverter.  You know, solar generates a direct current that needs to be converted to AC in order to be put to the power grid, and so the more efficiency you can have in that conversion from DC to AC, the more economically viable solar becomes.  We've really been able to—over the last ten years—collect a wide range of data so that our engineers are able to calibrate and characterize how a solar system is going to behave in the field."

SunWize provides training, business coaching on running a solar install business and operational and engineering support to its franchise partners, as well as access to its solar products.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...