City of Palo Alto, Clean Energy Collective, Solaire Generation, SunEdison & Whole Foods Market honoured at Annual Solar Power Generation USA Awards

The high calibre of all this year's submissions was commented upon by the judging panel, demonstrating real leadership and innovation in a US solar market undergoing much change.

February 7, 2014, San Diego

This week saw the brightest in the US solar industry come together at the Annual SPG USA congress in San Diego to hear the announcements of this year's SPG USA Awards winners. Presented by Rear Admiral Len Hering, the prominent military and sustainability leader, this year's categories were best solar collaboration, best solar project and most innovative solar company. The high calibre of all this year's submissions was commented upon by the judging panel, demonstrating real leadership and innovation in a US solar market undergoing much change.

In the category of Best Solar Project, the PV array on Whole Foods Markets Brooklyn store developed and financed by SunEdison using Solaire Generation's solar canopies took this year's first place. Meeting up to 25% of the store's energy needs and providing protection from the elements for shoppers, the canopies also feature an integrated storm water management system to lower the building's water use and reduce storm runoff. With the store situated on a remediated brownfield site, featuring an off-grid LED parking lot lighting, a combined heat and power (CHP) system and self-generating car charging stations via both wind and solar power, the store shows how PV can integrated with other measures to develop a truly green building.

One of the hottest topics of discussion at the associated SPG USA congress was innovative business models in the distributed generation space. In keeping with this theme the awards saw the leading community solar company in the US, Clean Energy Collective receive the award for most innovative solar company. Providing true ownership of panels to community solar participants, presenting no capital costs to the utility company and demonstrating how such business models can be beneficial for all parties involved, Clean Energy Collective are paving the way for others to help distributed PV move forward.

For best solar collaboration the award went to the City of Palo Alto. Having gained a reputation as being one of the most rigorous agencies to get approval and pass inspections for solar panel installations, the city pulled together staff, elected officials, homeowners, and representatives from leading installers alongside solar to create a stakeholder group tasked with overhauling the process. Implementing a series of streaming initiatives, program improvement, fee reductions, and online documentation to expedite and simplify the entire PV review and inspection process, dramatic improvements have been seen. The average number of days to permit issuance went from 122 days in 2012 down to 27 in 2013; the average number of days to final inspection went from 209 days in 2012 down to 140 in 2013; the average number of times plans are returned with corrections halved. As a result of these improvements, the number of solar applications received in city the same 3 month period increased by 67%. The awards panel commended the City on their fantastic efforts removing barriers to assist greatly in the advancement of solar deployment.

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