Energy adviser: Solar heat works even in Northwest

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The Columbian
July 7th, 2011

Despite the Northwest’s gray and drizzly weather, homeowners still may find rewards from investing in a solar energy collection system. The best return comes from solar-heated water for indoor use or an outdoor swimming pool.

Water heating accounts for about 15 to 25 percent of home energy costs — about $450 per year for a family of four. Using solar can help reduce those costs, say experts at Clark Public Utilities. When choosing a system, make sure the design is “climate specific,” said Bob West, an energy counselor at the utility.

“Solar heating does work here in Clark County in the summer,” West said. But consumers should make sure they invest in a climate-appropriate system, he warned.

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Energy jobs: Solar-cell installation market a growing field

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Marty Schladen
El Paso Times
July 5th, 2011

As the use of solar panels booms in the region, there is a burgeoning market for electricians to install them.

So much so that an area training program is looking for 40 to 45 people to become apprentice electricians, the first step in the progression to being a journeyman electrician. And that number is expected to grow in the coming years.

"We will see more things happening in the region," said Edgar Campa Palafox, a senior economic development specialist with the city of El Paso.

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California rooftop solar installations surge; renewable energy approaches oil output, reports say

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Tiffany Hsu
July 5th, 2011
Los Angeles Times

Renewable sources in the U.S. are starting to produce enough energy to rival oil output, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

Biomass and biofuels along with geothermal, solar, water and wind-power generation were responsible for nearly 12% of the country’s energy production during the first quarter of the year. That’s nearly 6% more than nuclear’s output and 77% of the amount coming from domestic crude oil, the agency said.

Electricity from wind sources is up 40% from the same period last year, according to the agency. Solar output more than doubled.

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County backs proposed solar energy farm near Laughlin

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Joe Schoenmann
Las Vegas Sun
July 5th, 2011

Clark County will begin negotiations with a Chinese company that wants to bring a massive solar energy farm and a factory to manufacture solar panels to Laughlin.

Voting unanimously, commissioners expressed strong support for the development that many say could be the start of diversifying a state economy that historically has relied almost exclusively on tourism.

“I want these negotiations to go as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Steve Sisolak, whose district includes Laughlin. The county will begin getting appraisals for 5,400 acres slated for development and return relatively quickly with estimates.

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Betting on Big Solar

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Bryan Walsh
Time Magazine
July 4th, 2011

It's good news for solar advocates and bad news for competitors: General Electric is breaking into the solar business in a major way. In April, GE announced it had built a solar module with the highest publicly reported efficiency rate for cadmium telluride thin film — the most popular low-cost solar technology. The commercial module topped out at 12.8%, according to independent testers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory — nearly 3 percentage points higher than the industry average. (The efficiency rate is the percentage of the sun's energy a solar panel can convert to electricity.) Those record-breaking solar modules will eventually be manufactured at a U.S. facility set to open in 2013 that will be the biggest solar factory in the country. The news means GE — which already has a wind-energy business worth some $6 billion — could be ready to dominate solar much as it leads the way in wind. "This is the beginning of what we see as a global competition," says Victor Abate, GE's vice president of renewables.

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