US solar manufacturer teams with energy service company to help San Diegans cash-in on incentives

This partnership makes solar electricity more accessible to San Diego homeowners.

provided by AstroPower, Inc.

stroPower Inc., the largest fully independent US manufacturer of solar cells, modules and panels, and Altair Energy, an alternative energy service company known for its full-service approach to solar electricity, announced that they have joined forces to help San Diego residents take advantage of some of the best cash incentives in the nation toward solar electric systems.

The two companies have opened a San Diego office and will market their packaged solar electric systems and full-service approach under the banner of Sun-ChoiceSM. "We are confident that the SunChoice program will make it easier than ever before for San Diego residents to tap solar electricity," said Dr. Allen M. Barnett, president and CEO of AstroPower. "The SunChoice program also will help this community take advantage of cash rebates and discounts that can reduce system costs by as much as 50 percent."

Barnett said that Californians have some of the best incentives in the United States to invest in home solar electric systems right now, thanks to a California Energy Commission rebate that is available on a first come, first serve basis. He said that their company also can add a special discount of about 10 percent since they are one of a few companies nationwide to be awarded federal funds to help reduce system hardware costs.

Barnett said that AstroPower currently has a marketing campaign underway to promote their packaged solar electric systems in five US markets. "We believe that 2000 and beyond will be marked by rapid growth in residential rooftop solar electric systems," said Barnett.

AstroPower chose to partner with Altair Energy in San Diego because of its recent success in marketing full-service solar electricity in Colorado. In just 1-1/2 years, Altair Energy has triggered a 600 percent statewide increase in the use of solar electric systems located on Colorado homes that already have utility power. The company is known for its partnerships with electric utilities, including Public Service Company of Colorado, and with homebuilders who wish to offer their customers clean electricity options that offer more self-sufficiency, especially during utility outages.

"We have found that people really like the idea of using their rooftops to produce their own environmentally-friendly electricity," says Kirk Stokes, president of Altair Energy. "At a time when fossil fuel prices are on the rise and solar electric system costs have dropped, we believe there has never been a better time to own a solar electric system in California."

Unlike the solar hot water systems frequently seen on the rooftops of California homes, solar electric systems convert sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic technology (PV). PV technology has been used on satellites for more than 40 years but has only recently become affordable to homeowners. PV panels are thinner and less bulky than those used for hot water and they are usually mounted flush on rooftops or on the ground.

Altair Energy's local office will offer San Diego residents a wide range of services under the AstroPower SunChoice banner, including utility-quality system installations through licensed local contractors, warranty and maintenance contracts, and financing options through lenders such as GMAC Mortgage. Customers also will benefit from net metering, meaning that Altair Energy will help them receive retail credit for excess solar electricity they sell back to San Diego Gas & Electric.

With current price incentives, a typical homeowner in San Diego can expect to spend anywhere from $6,000 to $9,000 to meet a quarter or more of their electric needs. Homeowners also can get a system that offers backup power to critical appliances during utility outages at an additional cost of 10 to 20 percent. To find out more about SunChoice solar electric systems, contact Altair Energy at (760) 752-0051.

AstroPower is the only fully independent, publicly-traded solar electric cell and module manufacturing company in the United States. AstroPower is headquartered in Newark, Delaware and its products are used all around the world to provide electricity from the sun. Altair Energy is a Golden, Colorado-based solar electric energy service company providing natural electric solutions to consumers, builders, government, companies and utilities.