High Noon Solar

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QUICKREAD

Heidi Ihrke & Cory Sullivan
High Noon Solar
569 S. Westgate Dr. #4
Grand Junction, CO 81505
(970) 241-0209
http://www.highnoonsolar.com



Where did you grow up?
We both grew up in the Midwest, Cory in Wisconsin and me on the other side of the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota.

How did you get started in the solar industry?
I was studying both literature and philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, while Cory was studying management.  Perhaps a little unconventional roots to a renewable energy career and perhaps not, as it turned out.  While I was signed up for an environmental philosophy class, Cory tagged along when we took a field trip to a sustainable, solar powered home just outside of the city.  We saw what could be done with solar in a practical application and were hooked ever since.

How has the industry changed since you got started?
There were minimal federal incentives and no utility rebates in place when High Noon Solar started in 2005 so we began with remote, off-grid installations and some solar thermal hot water.  No one had heard of on-grid residential solar installations in Colorado because of the lack of strong net metering laws, utility rebates, and so forth, plus solar panels were still at a relatively high cost per watt.  Since then, the federal tax incentive has been boosted, utility rebates have come and gone and come back again and the cost of solar continues to decrease as the demand builds.

What should consumers look for in solar? What kind of questions should consumers ask a solar contractor before they sign a contract?
Customers really have one of two main routes to go when considering adding solar to their homes. Either they can purchase the system or lease it. When leasing, a customer needs to know that the cost benefits tend to be less in the current rebate environment since a third party owns the system and they inherently need a piece of the profit.  Usually, a customer can now do better with simple financing options.  As most homeowners aren’t going to be in their homes for the full 15- 20 years of the lease contract, it can also be a complex situation when selling the home if there is a lein attached.  One of the best questions you can ask, if you are looking for an investment in solar, is not ‘What is my payment going to be this year for the solar?’ but instead, ‘What will my savings be long term? ‘The other important question is ‘Who is actually manufacturing the equipment to be installed on my home and what is the warranty on it?’  If you are purchasing something you are looking to find savings from year after year, you want to make sure the company is well-established and with a warranty that will last long past the initial savings.

Is there a particular brand of solar that you consider your specialty?
We prefer to use SunPower brand solar panels for many reasons, including their superior performance in high heat and low light.  Combined with their industry leading warranty, SunPower is at the front of the pack of solar panel manufacturers.  Plus, they’re a U.S.-based company that holds the Guinness World Record for panel efficiency.

What do you enjoy when you’re not working?
I teach three yoga classes a week, have a once a month radio show on our community radio station, KAFM, swim, and am a voracious reader. Cory and I got into trail running this year as well, which leads us out into the great wide open spaces as far as our feet can take us.

What do you enjoy about living in western Colorado?
The great outdoors and the creative people! For such a small population, the amount of artists in the Grand Valley is outstanding and the encouragement to cultivate it is strong. The beautiful surroundings are an inspiration, whenever I’m feeling mired down.  Plus, the people of Colorado aren’t afraid to go out and play… and play hard!  It pushes me to explore more personal boundaries, rather than get stuck in old habits and patterns.

What do you see as up-and-coming trends in the solar industry.
The cost of traditional electricity continues to increase with population growth, limited resources, and aging infrastructure.  
This, paired with the continual decrease of the cost of solar, is pushing our industry toward ‘grid parity,’ which means federal and utility incentives are no longer necessary.  In many areas of the United States, we’re already there.  It’s a good day for renewable energy when it can beat the cost of coal-produced power.  The other trend we are closely watching is the ever-increasing number of electric vehicles available on the market.  What’s better than free power for both your home and your car?

Looking for help improving your home? Call the HBA of Northwestern Colorado at (970) 245-0253 or visit http://www.hbanwco.com

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