Thursday, March 17, 2011

UMA Solar COO Bob Zrallack Quoted in Daytona Beach News-Journal

As appeared in the Daytona Beach News-Journal

By Bob Koslow, Business Writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- There's enough sunshine during one day in Florida to produce energy to supply the state for one year.

Solar power, though, generates only about 2 percent of all the state's power, according to the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association.

The top power-generating fuels are natural gas, 46.8 percent, and coal, 28.1 percent.

A lack of leadership and political willpower to develop and implement a comprehensive energy plan is why solar and other renewable energy sources are not more prevalent, said association officials who addressed a crowd of about 120 this week during a Solar/Renewable Energy Forum at the Advanced Technology College.

"There are hundreds of organizations in Florida, government, industry, legislatively-created and non-profits that are all components of the large picture," said Justin Sobol, manager of renewable project development for Florida Power & Light. "No one is looking at the larger picture making something happen. There needs to be central policies to unify the efforts."

Trying to unify that fractured environment, at least regionally, is one reason the College of Engineering Technology and Occupational Programs at Daytona State College sponsored the public forum.

"There is a lot of activity in the state, but none of it coalesces to a fine point and that is what we want to do," said Stan Sidor, associate vice president of the College of Engineering Technology and Occupational Programs. "Bring all the players together to talk so we know each other and know what's going on and to look to the next step."

Increasing the demand and use of solar technology could help existing solar installation companies expand and add jobs as well as open avenues for new solar equipment manufacturing and distribution businesses. And, if local officials can pull together the various regional organizations, such as the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, the Space Coast Energy Consortium and Daytona State College, the region could become a larger hub for solar technology research and development.

The timely forum played out as political unrest in the Middle East was driving up local gasoline prices beyond $3.40 a gallon and further demonstrating the nation's need to lessen its dependency on foreign oil.

The demonstrations also inspired a tool, although less violently, to push for increased renewable energy, especially solar.

"When people speak loud enough, like in Egypt and Libya, other people listen," said Bob Zrallack, chief operating officer of UMA Solar, an Orlando manufacturer of solar thermal water heater panels.

Officials agreed many voices flooding the Legislature and demanding action is the best first course of action.

Bruce Kershner, executive director of the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, pointed out that solar and other renewable energy sources are popular.

"The state's solar rebate program ran out of money every year. No one imagined it would be so successful," he said.

He also pointed to a recent McLaughlin & Associates poll that found 80 percent of Floridians support renewable energy and 70 percent support a $1 a month surcharge on electricity bills to pay for incentives for renewable energies.

However, differences developed when discussing details of where incentives should be focused.

The big divide was between encouraging large utility-owned solar electric plants or smallerscale solar generating panels on more widespread homes and businesses.

The industries association backed rebates and other programs to spur rooftop solar installations, known as distributive generation.

Bill Gallagher, president of the FSEIA and owner of Solar Fit in Daytona Beach, said the added charge could help create 40,000 jobs for installers, plumbers, electricians and engineers; $12.2 billion in wages and $300 million in taxes.

"The benefit is long-term jobs. We need to change from the horse and buggy," he said.

Zrallack said that while the construction of three FPL solar power plants provided hundreds of jobs, they were for less than a year while rooftop installation jobs would last for many years.

Solar systems are costly and require a lot of capital that large utilities have access to, Sobol said.

He also noted the addition of large solar plants now would increase the development and use of solar technology that would eventually lower equipment costs and make it affordable in the long term for homeowners and small businesses.

FPL recently spent $625 million, $100 million less than originally estimated, on three solar electric generating plants.

New Partnership and Distribution Point in Midwest

UMA Solar, manufacturer and distributor of the industry’s highest-performing solar thermal products for residential and commercial applications nationwide, is pleased to announce an exclusive partnership with John Ervin and a new distribution point in Hermann, Mo.

“Having a resident renewable energy expert centrally located in the Midwest will increase UMA Solar’s presence in an expanding market,” said Bob Zrallack, UMA Solar COO. “This will allow us to better serve our existing customers while reaching out to new ones.”

Ervin is a veteran in the renewable energy field with more than 10 years experience installing solar systems in Arizona, Mexico and Missouri. He is also a practiced sales representative, having sold renewable energy equipment globally with a focus on solar water heating, solar pool heating, solar electric and wind power in both residential and commercial systems. He is actively working towards North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification in photovoltaic and solar domestic hot water systems.

As part of the new partnership, a new UMA Solar distribution point will be added to the Midwest region, rounding out the company’s current network of distribution centers in northern and southern California, Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania.

“Due to the increase in fuel and energy costs, it seems logical to have equipment available in the Midwest, reducing transportation costs for our customers in addition to reducing fuel use,” said Ervin. “As the demand for green energy grows in this country and as we try to reduce our usage of imported fuels, UMA Solar will continue to be a key player in distributing the equipment necessary in the most cost effective and environmentally sustainable method possible.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Solar: The Safe Energy Choice

Between the BP disaster and the potential nuclear meltdown in Japan, do we need any more reasons to begin investing in clean, renewable energy like SOLAR?

There are 104 commercial reactors operating at 65 plants in the United States. While most are in the Midwest and along the east coast, some are in earthquake-prone areas. In particular, two in California are built on the Pacific coast near the San Andreas fault. These are built to withstand a magnitude 7.5 earthquake—much less than the San Francisco quake of 1906 measuring 8.3 and Friday’s Japanese quake of 8.9.

Solar power is safe, clean and readily available. Best of all, the wide range of available solar technology gives individuals and businesses the flexibility to achieve energy independence according to their own budget and needs. From solar hot water systems and simple, solar-powered attic fans to complex photovoltaic systems that can completely free users from the grid, solar power is a financially feasible and environmentally responsible choice.