Photo by Jeremy Norris


The Newsletter of the Arizona Solar Energy Association                Fall, 2009

The State of Solar in Arizona - Coming Soon!

Greenbuild Expo Comes to Phoenix: Nov. 11-13th, 2009

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference & Expo convenes the industry’s largest gathering of representatives from all sectors of the green building movement. Three days of extensive educational programming, workshops, a vast exhibition floor and ample networking events provide unrivaled opportunities to learn about the latest technological innovations, explore new products, and exchange ideas with other professionals. Greenbuild 2009 will be held on Nov. 11-13, 2009, in Phoenix, Ariz. This past year’s conference in Boston, Mass. drew more than 28,000 attendees and featured more than 800 exhibit booths. Visit for more information. To view last year’s Greenbuild show, go to

Hiring the Right Company and Assuring a Quality Solar Installation

By Vivian Harte, ASEA Past Chair

The solar industry has been attracting a lot of attention these days. There is a lot of buzz about solar all over Arizona. With the rapid growth and interest in the solar equipment industry, renewable energy and green products, there has also been a corresponding growth of marginal and fraudulent people and companies who misrepresent the facts, exaggerate solar's return on investment, and tell half-truths.

It is important for consumers to be very careful when considering what some so-called "experts" are saying as well as when hiring a contractor to install solar.

In order to estimate the size and calculate the approximate cost to install a solar energy system for your home or building, go to our home page at and click on "My Solar Estimator" on the bottom left-hand side of the page. You can get information for solar electric (PV), solar water heating, pool or spa heating, and space heating and cooling systems. The financial analysis provided is based upon energy bill savings you can expect and the net system cost, after tax credits and other incentives are applied.

Note: The results you receive are based on many assumptions and the limited data you enter. Every "solar cost-estimator" algorithm is based on a set of assumptions, and as a savvy consumer, you should research those assumptions to assure that they apply to your situation before accepting the numbers. With "My Solar Estimator," there are PDFs at the bottom of the final page that explain in detail what assumptions are used in their estimation of payback times.

You can also check out our brochures on solar PV systems and water heaters on our "Publications" page before you contact any solar companies to educate yourself on the equipment you want.

An actual site assessment by a qualified solar professional will be needed to determine the costs and benefits of installing a solar energy system. You can get several suggestions for being a smart solar consumer from the Arizona Solar Center website at The following are the most important:

  • Before you contact any solar companies, look at which direction your roof faces, observe where any shading is, and gather relevant utility and water bills to show current usage.

  • Get quotes from at least three solar equipment companies and make sure that you give them all the same information and that you are provided with an equivalent response so you can compare apples to apples. Have each company do a site visit before providing you with a contract. Get a written estimate and terms of the contract with a clear definition of who will do the installations and appropriate protections, insurance, warranties and guarantees, etc.

  • If they are bonded, request a copy of their bond, and also request their Registrar of Contractor's license number and a copy of their insurance. Ask them how many solar installations their company has successfully completed in the past year. You might also ask if they have a registered Professional Engineer on staff and where their installation staff got their training.

  • Ask for at least three references from each company, with at least one of them being a customer of long standing - over two or three years or longer. Contact each reference and ask them about their satisfaction with the product they purchased and with the service they received.

There are several state agencies and organizations you can contact for information about the companies you are considering:

  • The Registrar of Contractors can tell you about licensing, both the company you are contracting with as well as any subcontractors they may use for installation. Some companies do both sales and installation, and some prefer to sub-contract out the installation work. In either case, there must be appropriate licensing. Also, ask the Registrar of Contractors if there have been any complaints or litigation. (Note: These days, everybody is lawsuit happy, so the important thing is not whether there was a complaint but how the complaint was dealt with.)

  • The Arizona Corporation Commission can tell you whether the company is a registered Arizona corporation.

  • The Secretary of State can ascertain if the company is a legal Arizona entity.

  • The Better Business Bureau has information on whether the company has had any complaints and how those were resolved.

Also, check with the city the company is based in to ascertain the business integrity of the company and whether it has a city business license.

After you select the company you want and before signing a contract, be sure there is a clear completion date and language that protects your interest should the date be unable to be met. It's also important to have language in the contract that protects you from ancillary building damage, i.e. roofing, piping, wiring.

If you want to know how much money you need to invest to save money on utility bills, go to the Arizona Solar Energy Industries' website at to calculate the solar return on your investment. That page will also tell you about the solar rebates from your utility company, federal and state tax credits, and property tax discounts.

The key is to learn everything you can about solar before you attend any talks or before you contact an installer. That way, you can ask intelligent questions and know when someone is being truthful.

ASEA Election Report - Preliminary Report


At a meeting convened at 4:15 p.m., 10 August 2009, the ASEA Elections Committee met to verify and count ballots submitted for the ASEA election. Attending/participating were Ferrell Anderson (meeting Chair), Dan Aiello, Carole Mars, Thomas Timmons, and Geoff Sutton

There were 64 ballots received and counted.


Chair: Chuck Skidmore
Vice Chair: Lane Garrett
Treasurer: Dan Aiello
Secretary: Carole Mars

Northern Region Director: Michael Bower
Central Region Director: * Tie Vote* Paul McClernon and Jim Stack
Southern Region Director: Marcylene Holler

David Bachman-Williams
Kevin Edwards
Geoff Sutton

Vivian Harte

NOTE: Election materials, ballots, and vote compilation worksheets are in the hands of the elected Secretary Carole Mars, to be a part of the ASEA files and records, and are available for review, upon formal request to the Secretary.

Re: Tie - There is no policy nor provision in the ASEA ByLaws for this event. The elected Chair, with the new Board, shall address resolution of this issue.

The Election Committee wishes to thank all of the candidates for their participation, and to encourage all to participate in the ASEA Committees and activities.

Submitted: 11 August 2009

Fall Solar Building Tour Update

Living With the Sun - Arizona Style 2009 Tour of Solar and Sustainable Buildings

What: The Arizona component of the American Solar Energy Association's National Solar Tour.
Dates & Times: Tours will be occurring in an Az. community, throughout the State, every weekend from the end of September to the beginning of November 2009.
Community: Currently tour Communities include Flagstaff, Williams, Winslow, Lake Havasu, Prescott, Taylor/Snowflake, Verde Valley/Sedona, Phoenix metro area (October 24-25), Fountain Hills, Florence, Tucson metro area, Yuma, and Sierra Vista.
Presented by: Arizona Solar Energy Association - state chapter of ASES, and the Arizona Solar Center, Inc., an Arizona non-profit collaborative.
Description: Tours will vary in type and operation: guided or self-guided; fee or free; some will provide transport; 1 day or entire weekend. Pre and post tour activities may occur in some communities. Please check the site for information and updates.
Fee: Some tours will have a fee and some will be at no cost. Fees will vary depending on the conditions provided in the local effort.
Instructions for taking this tour: Tour(s) information will be posted and updated on the News section and calendar of the Az. Solar Center website at People interested in participating in the tour, either as a site owner or in tour planning or implementation should contact Tour Coordinator Dan Peter Aiello, or 602-952-8192, for more details. For information on ASES's National Solar Tour, visit:

Arizona Solar Center Creates Local Meet-Up Group

Solar Jobs

ASEA Solar Job Bank

SEIA Solar Job Website

Solar News Updates

New Thin-Film Firm Promises Low Cost Solar Panels

$2.1 billion solar plant planned for Kingman area

IRS Updates Solar Tax Credit Info,,id=211307,00.html

Worldwide Solar Events List

Solar Power at Phoenix Data Center

SRP Reduces Solar Incentives

Large Solar Project Proposed in NE Arizona

Large Solar Thermal Plant Planned Near Phoenix

Updated: October 9, 2009

Arizona Solar Energy Association • P.O. Box 5583 • Scottsdale, Arizona 85261 •