Category Archives: solar energy

Support TWP When You Go Solar!

solar lighting

Trees, Water & People (TWP) and Benny Mosiman, an Energy Consultant with SolarCity (and a former intern at TWP), have joined forces to help homeowners lower their electricity costs with solar and help fund the Solar Energy and Tribal Renewable Energy Programs here at TWP. When you purchase a solar system through SolarCity and you mention Trees, Water & People as your referral, a $250 donation will be made to help fund our renewable energy programs in Central America and on tribal lands of the U.S.

The choice to get your electricity from the sun will not only benefit the environment and your wallet but will also help families in Central America and on Native American Reservations all across this country get their power from clean, renewable resources.

SolarCity installs solar PV systems with no up-front costs and sells the electricity back to the homeowner at a rate comparable to what you pay for electricity now, often times for a lower cost!  If you would like to set up a free site visit or just want to chat about your options for solar and see if it is a right fit for you please contact Benny at 720-387-5482 or bmosiman@solarcity.com. Don’t forget to mentions Trees, Water & People!

solarcity logo

Notes from the Field: Solar Heating at Sacred Earth Lodge

by Lacey Gaechter, National Director

Sacred Earth Lodge

Mother Nature shows her power in the night sky over Sacred Earth Lodge

After opening it’s doors to the public in late 2013, the Sacred Earth Lodge (SEL) has already hosted several groups and we look forward to hosting many more visitors and Native American trainees in 2014.

Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center

on-site solar and wind demos

This week, we will host our first Solar Hot Water Heater Training at the Sacred Earth Lodge. Once the new hot water system is in place, it will join our growing selection of on-site renewable energy demonstration units. Along with our existing solar air heaters, wind turbines, and grid-tied and battery-tied photovoltaic systems, we will now have a solar hot water system that can be taken apart and reassembled class after class. This equipment gives us the ability to do hands-on training, which is so important to the learning process and what makes our training program unique.

The hot water generated in this solar water system will be mixed with anti-freezing agents and circulated through a radiant heat floor to keep the building warm, using only the sun’s rays!

You can help support this important new clean energy system and contribute to SEL’s low impact, sustainable building design by visiting our fundraising project on Global Giving. Stay tuned for more updates about our Tribal Renewable Energy Program!

Happy National “Shout Out for Solar” Day!

shout out for solar day

 

We are joining people from around the country and the world to celebrate National “Shout Out for Solar” Day!  Will you join us?

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) writes, “When all of the numbers are finally in, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry.  We’ve now joined Germany, China and Japan as worldwide leaders when it comes to the installation of new solar capacity.”

Now that is something to celebrate! You can join in this special day by visiting the SEIA website, downloading one of the #GoSolar signs, and posting to your social networks.

“Today, solar is one of the fastest-growing industries in America, employing 120,000 workers and generating an estimated 13 gigawatts (GW) of clean electricity – enough to effectively power 2 million homes. “

Let the world know that you love solar and support this important industry. Cheers to a clean energy future!

america loves solar

TWP’s Regional Coordinator Graduates from Academia de Profesionales Solares de las Américas

SEI workshop

Benjamin Osorto, TWP’s Regional Coordinator in Central America, recently completed the Academia de Profesionales Solares de las Américas (APSA) program, where he was part of the first graduating class. Congrats Benjamin! 

This innovative program, designed and managed by Solar Energy International with support from the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, teaches Latin American students how to design, install and maintain solar PV systems and to successfully launch and administer businesses in this critically important industry.

Matthew Harris, Director of Academia de Profesionales Solares de las Américas, wrote, “A new chapter has begun in the Americas and after graduating this first group of people in to the APSA program I am humbled to know that the world is blessed with 50 champions linked by a strong passion to do good for their countries and the world.” 

To learn more about this program please visit the Solar Energy International Website.

SEI APSA

Community Voices: Rodrigo Santos

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

studying by solar light Honduras

Rodrigo Santos studies by the light of a solar lamp at his home in La Paz, Honduras.

Rural Central America has always been a magical escape for me.  You see and experience life at its most basic levels, and while the people are often of little economic means, they are proud, hardworking and tremendously generous.  The air is clean, smiles abound, and everyone is generally busy with something, but will never deny an opportunity to lend you a hand.

On my most recent trip to Honduras, I met Rodrigo Santos, an inspiring young man who reminded me of the importance of education and innovation, no matter where you are in the world.

Rechargeable RadioRodrigo amazed us in the field, as he is a college student that lives in a very rural community with no access to electricity.  He attends university classes 1.5 hours from where he lives. Not only was he one of the first in the area to purchase one of our solar products, but because of his electrical engineering skills and tinkering interests, he has become the go-to solar entrepreneur and maintenance man in his community.

People like Rodrigo make me want to continue working each and every day to bring sustainable energy solutions to Central America, solutions that improve people’s livelihoods and protect the environment.

To learn more about our expanding Solar Energy Program please visit our website.

Rodrigo Santos with his family in La Paz, Honduras.

Rodrigo Santos and his family in La Paz, Honduras.

Photo of the Week: Lighting Homes and Minds in Honduras

solar lighting Honduras

About the photo

Our colleagues at Greenlight Planet, a company that manufactures the solar light  you see in this photo, estimate that study times for students in homes that have switched from kerosene lighting to solar increase by 75 percent.  In the homes we visit in Central America, we regularly find good evidence that this is the case. Several customers have commented that kids can study better at night and adults can crunch numbers for their business, or work on their savings and loans group ledgers later into the night.  This is perhaps the greatest impact of our work alongside the direct cash savings that families experience.

Photo by Darren Mahuron

Upcoming Training: Solar Hot Water Systems

January 26-February 1, 2014

(Register by January 17)

solar hot water

Solar hot water systems use the sun’s energy to provide hot water for the household taps or for household heating. During this course, students will learn about solar hot water systems in general and gain hands-on experience installing solar hot water panels for an in-floor (radiant) heating system.
Where: Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, Pine Ridge, SD

Who: Students from tribes throughout the country will join Lakota Solar Enterprises and Trees, Water & People for this hands-on training.

You must complete a Registration and Payment Form to be considered for this training.

When: January 26-February 1, 2014

Apply Now!
Registration and Payment Form due January 17, 2014

For more information, and to download a Payment and Registration Form, visit www.solarwarriors.org or call Lacey Gaechter at 970-484-3678 or email lacey@treeswaterpeople.org.

Trees, Water & People Renewable Energy Program Red Lettering (250)

TWP Launches For-Profit Subsidiary to Distribute Solar Energy in Latin America

clean energy

We are excited to announce the launch of our new for-profit subsidiary, Luciérnaga, a social enterprise that brings clean energy solutions to rural Central America. Luciérnaga distributes small (<15W) solar lighting technologies that affordably meet lighting and device charging needs for energy poor populations.

1.6 billion people, roughly 1/4 of the global population, lack access to electricity, and millions more have only expensive and unreliable access. In Central America alone, 7.4 million people are without electricity. Families rely on kerosene, candles, and ocote (a local pine used like a candle) for light. These energy sources are both expensive and have a negative impact on both human health and the natural environment.

solar light hondurasWith support from the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), our Solar Energy Program was launched in January 2012 with a shipment of 450 Sun King Pro lamps to Honduras. In March of 2012, we made our first large order of household lighting systems from Barefoot Power. By September 2013, over 4,000 lights had been imported, expanding the program to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. By the end of this year, we will have more than 6,000 lights in Central America.

As demand for our products grows, we have incorporated Luciérnaga LLC as a subsidiary of Trees, Water & People in order to more efficiently manage our supply chain, reducing the cost of lights for our many customers.

We are excited to grow this social enterprise so we can bring clean energy to families throughout Central America. You can support our work! Please visit our new crowdfunding campaign to see how you can help.

For more info please visit the new Luciérnaga website or email Sebastian Africano at sebastian@luciernagasolar.com.

Luciernaga Logo Light Background

Native American Trainees Install 1 Megawatt Solar Garden in Colorado

by Lacey Gaechter, National Director
Lafayette Colorado solar garden
Using the knowledge and experience gained from their classes at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, three of our Native American trainees are currently employed by Bella Energy to install a 1 megawatt photovoltaic “Solar Garden” in the city of Lafayette, Colorado.

Recently, I went down to support our friends at Bella, see the job site for the first time, and touch base with our students, Landon, Kale, and Jeff. Well, the job site was impressive. A 1 megawatt solar array is huge! The project is called the Lafayette Solar Garden. Funded by Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Community Program, owned by the City of Lafayette, and available for use by residents and business in the town (“subscribers”), this is a tremendous community resource.

Bella Energy, an exceptional Colorado solar company (whose CEO, Jim Welch, helped found TWP’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program in 2002) is charged with the installation of the million watts of the Lafayette Solar Garden and subcontracted Lakota Solar Enterprises to help. So it came to be that Kale Means, Landon Means, and Jeff King were given this ideal opportunity to put their green jobs skills to use.

The City of Lafayette and local businesses will utilize the majority of the electricity generated by this solar garden resulting in annual cost savings and the offset of 1,034 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of planting 27,883 trees and placing 213 zero-emission passenger vehicles on the road.

solar garden Lafayette ColoradoAll from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana, Jeff, Landon, and Kale have been chomping at the bit to start this gig and were excited to experience a new place – living in Erie, CO for the duration of the job. For my part, I was excited to see them after their fourth day on the job and see how things were going.

When I arrived, the guys were nowhere to be found. Jeff text me that they had to go to get haircuts. It was great to see the Bella folks and hear good things about the Lakota Solar Enterprises crew, but what the heck? I drove an hour to attend the dedication ceremony, and all Jeff, Kale, and Landon had to do was not leave. I called Jeff after the festivities were finished to find out what was so important about a haircut. Well, it turns out that it was Kale’s birthday and he wanted a haircut for his own celebration. Happy birthday Kale!

It’s so great to see our friends thriving in this new environment and on the job. Thanks to Bella and the City of Lafayette for this opportunity, and thanks to Landon, Kale, and Jeff for being such hard working, talented, and now well-manicured guys.

1 megawatt Solar Garden Colorado(Photos courtesy of Jon Becker, TWP Board President)

New Photo Exhibit Opening to the Public Nov. 1st

photo exhibit

We are pleased to announce the November 1 opening of our new photography exhibition, Illuminating Opportunity: A photo exhibit for social good, an exploration of our solar energy program through the eyes of Fort Collins-based photographer Darren Mahuron. The photo exhibit will be open to the public November 1 from 6-9pm at the Community Creative Center located at 200 Mathews Street in Old Town Fort Collins.

The exhibit will take you to the heart of rural Honduras, where we work with local communities to distribute small-scale, clean energy technologies such as solar lighting and solar phone chargers. Darren Mahuron’s unique photos highlight the rich Honduran culture while showcasing TWP’s important efforts to light the homes of families living without electricity.

In Honduras alone, 2.3 million people still have no access to electricity. Families rely on kerosene lamps and candles that are expensive and produce high levels of indoor air pollution. Our solar products deliver immediate, triple-bottom line returns to the poorest communities in the Western Hemisphere. Reducing dependency on kerosene and switching over to solar lighting systems brings staggering social, environmental, and economic returns.

“We envision a world where every person, down to the last mile or ‘base of the pyramid,’ has access to clean energy in an affordable manner.” said Sebastian Africano, International Director.

Read more about the exhibit in today’s Coloradoan!