June 18, 2010 Phoenix Business Journal

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chipotle serving up extra-large solar-powered burritos

Phoenix Business Journal – by Patrick O’Grady

Solar power is growing in use, and even national retail chains are jumping on the bandwagon.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has begun rolling out solar-powered stores in Arizona — one slated for Goodyear, one in the Norterra area of north Phoenix and two in Tucson.

The projects are being done by GridPoint Inc., the new owner of Texas-based Standard Renewable Energy, which opened offices in the Valley last year.

GridPoint hoped to start the installations this month, said John Berecki, the company’s Arizona regional manager.

“We have several more throughout Phoenix that also could start in June,” he said.

GridPoint is working through a national contract with Chipotle to install solar on all of the restaurant’s facilities. Because many of the eateries are in strip malls, it creates interesting situations, Berecki said.

“It’s just going to be a matter of working with each of those owners and their landlords,” he said.

Each of the systems will be about 3 kilowatts — not enough to power the entire store’s operations, but enough to take a bite out of its electric bill, Berecki said.

For more: www.gridpoint.com.

Even panels need recycling

Solar always is pitched as a way to go green, but disposing of the panels at the end of their life span is a tricky endeavor.

The modules have plenty of recyclable materials, from glass and steel to the solar cells themselves, which is why pv recycling llc set up shop in the Valley to take advantage of the growing industry.

Jennifer Woolrich, the company’s founder and CEO, said they decided to branch out from a Tucson location a few months ago after doing a market study and finding there was demand in the Phoenix area.

“Of the 70 we interviewed, 100 percent wanted a recycling effort in the U.S., and 86 percent wanted it to be an independent third party,” she said.

The company will get its material from several waste streams, including modules that fail and cannot go back to the manufacturer, as well as those from decommissioned systems, Woolrich said.

The Valley and Tucson locations are situated ideally to make use of the growing adoption of solar from California through Texas, Woolrich said.

“We believe the Southwest is where we need to be to get the supply we need,” she said.

The company’s location in Tempe also is close to researchers at Arizona State University and private testing facilities at TUV Rheinland.

For more: www.pvrecycling.com.

No adapters needed

Last year, Phoenix company GoSolarLife LLC brought some unique personal electronic devices to market.

The chargers were solar-powered, developed by Global Solar in Tucson. They’re back this year, and instead of needing an adapter, you just need to plug in a USB cable.

The panels are about the same, but Glenn Schulke, GoSolarLife’s president, said they’re a bit easier to use because they just require the cable many devices use to attach to a computer.

Schulke and engineers at Global Solar worked on the solution to make it a little easier to charge devices. They come in either a mini-USB or regular USB connection, and can charge things such as cell phones, iPods and other devices usually in two to four hours.

For more: www.gosolarlife.com.

APS, National Bank partner

Arizona Public Service Co. and National Bank of Arizona have rolled out a program to offer low-interest leases for businesses’ energy-efficiency projects.

The loans are designed to fill the gap between the rebates offered by APS’ Solutions for Business program and the remaining cost.

The partnership is the second between APS and the Phoenix-based bank. The first was the Solar Phoenix partnership, which allowed for loans to install solar systems on home roofs.

The new program is available to small businesses that use 100 kilowatts of electricity or less per month. It operates as a capital lease program.

“National Bank of Arizona is proud to partner with APS for a second time to expand our sustainability offerings to include energy-efficiency loans,” said Craig Robb, executive vice president of National Bank of Arizona.

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