Andalay Solar announces that it will expand its manufacturing operations to the U.S., to provide Americans the option of American-made integrated AC panels. The company is also partnering with DC Sustainable Energy Utility to provide panels for low-income D.C. communities.
Integrated solar system manufacturer Andalay Solar (OTCQB:WEST) has been making quite a splash. Its modules already offer many advantages over ordinary ones, since they integrate the racking, wiring, and grounding directly into an AC solar panel. That’s big, because it reduces the number of components for a rooftop solar installation and speeds up labor, one of the major solar soft costs, by as much as 50%.
Now, Andalay is showing a strong commitment to U.S. manufacturing and job creation by adding American-made solar modules to its many advantages. The modules will be manufactured in San Jose, California.
This is the second expansion of U.S. solar manufacturing we’ve heard about in as many days, following yesterday’s announcement that Atlanta-based PV manufacturer Suniva is opening a Michigan manufacturing facility. This may be spurred by continuing solar trade wars plus a preference by American consumers to buy American-made panels.
“This is a progressive leap for Andalay,” says Steve Chan, CEO of Andalay Solar. “The majority of our customers are in the US, and we are excited to meet the growing American preference for USA made products by including fully tested and high quality solar modules as part of our systems and eliminate the tariff uncertainty in the market and associated costs.”
The panels will be available starting in September of this year and will be readily available to solar dealers and DIY end-users through Lowe’s and Amazon at that time.
Andalay has also announced that its panels are being used to bring solar to low-income communities in Washington, D.C. It’s part of a solar initiative pioneered by DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) in conjunction with contractors in Washington, D.C., including WDC Solar.
Mark Davis, CEO of WDC Solar, began working on this with the DCSEU in 2012. As housing prices in the nation’s capital continue to skyrocket, this initiative is designed to ensure that income-qualified residents have access to renewable energy technology that would otherwise be too costly for them to install. With this new partnership, these residents should now be able to reap the environmental benefits of solar as well as lower their utility bills. Moreover, this program opens up new “green collar” job opportunities for D.C. residents, as job training is offered to those participants who wish to join the solar workforce.
“Working with local D.C. contractors, the DCSEU has installed over 130 PV systems on single-family homes at no cost to homeowners, with an average estimated savings of 3,412 kWh annually per installation,” explains George L. Nichols, the Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the DCSEU. “The DCSEU is proud to offer this program to income-qualified residents who would not otherwise have the opportunity to benefit from renewable energy technology and the benefits it offers.”
WDC Solar expects to install systems for 30 additional homeowners before September 2014. These systems will feature Andalay’s innovative plug-and-play technology — which means the systems can be assembled quickly and safely, and are expected to save residents from long-term operations and maintenance costs.
“I find that there are three primary advantages to installing the Andalay System,” says Mark Davis, CEO of WDC Solar. “For one, having fewer parts means less trips up and down the ladder for our installers. Second, micro-inverters being attached to the panels cut installation time while producing more energy. Lastly, there is less waste — we notice that we have less trash at the end of the day, which means a cleaner environment.”
“We are very excited about this project to serve as a catalyst to enable solar adoption among income-qualified residents,” says Steven Chan, CEO of Andalay Solar. “We believe that our easy-to-install systems are optimal for a relatively new-to-solar installer workforce to quickly learn how to install solar systems. Given that Andalay’s fully integrated solar system can save up to 50% of labor time and provide longer term reliability on wire management, this will help make solar for housing much more affordable for D.C. residents who participate in the program.”