Solar Today November December 2012 : Page 23

Administrators of the California Solar Initiative-Thermal Program have taken steps to avoid some of the past program’s risk factors by implementing more reliable standards and quality control measures. the spring, program administrators launched a $5 million statewide PR campaign called Water Heated by the Sun, with television and radio commercials directing customers to the cam-paign’s website. Campaign messages focus on letting consumers know that SWH is a proven technology with both economic and environ-mental rewards. Using SWH simply makes sense in Califor-nia, where sunshine is abundant, and the CSI-Thermal Program makes installations more cost-effective and assures quality throughout the process. For further information, go to water heatedbythesun.com. Lakeland quickly recognized that its toughest budget challenge, by far, was securing long-term capital. To fill this gap, Lakeland recruited private-sector support. In the 1990s, one of Florida’s electric utilities, Lakeland Electric, idential solar water heaters would revisited this game plan hoping to likely reach saturation within a few make improved headway through years and that another high-volume its inherent strengths. Encouraged market was needed as a lifeboat for by polls showing renewed consum-the industry. er interest in solar affairs, and with So a plan emerged that would financial support from the Florida allow a solar company to install Solar Energy Center, Lakeland’s investor-owned SWH systems on management launched a program selected sites and then sell solar to determine if solar thermal energy heat to those customers at dis-Jeff Curry (jeff.curry@ could be metered accurately and counted rates, simultaneously lakelandgov.net) is sold profitably in Florida’s all-elec-producing 1) profits for investors the alternative energy tric single-family homes. and 2) savings for energy users. coordinator at During the process devel-Solar insiders even coined a catchy Lakeland Electric, an opment and early implementa-market phrase for this innovative electric and water tion stages of its SWH program, model: “solar micro-utility.” utility in Lakeland, Fla. Lakeland Electric chose to avoid The pioneers in this arena, how-building any unnecessary business ever, found limited success. They mechanisms. The utility found that it was easier later ascribed that to a single missing ingredient: to draw from its existing utility practices and There was no viable billing and collection entity. solartoday.org SOLAR TODAY November/December 2012 23 Flo r ida: Plug Solar Energy Practices into Utility Business Architecture D uring the early 1980s, forward-looking solar industry companies pondered whether solar thermal energy could be generated, delivered and sold to end-users in a fashion similar to other retail energy sales such as electricity and natural gas. This sober undertaking arose from the reluc-tant admission that the retail sales market for res-Copyright © 2012 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved. A DROIT S OL A R, SA N DIEGO

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