Solar boost

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Al Key/DRC
Brandon Karakashevich, an employee of Glean Power, a Denton solar and wind power company, installs solar panels on a Habitat for Humanity house on Lakey Street on May 13.
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Nonprofit’s work will help some Habitat homes cut energy costs

Roger Anderson with Habitat for Humanity of Denton County is all about energy efficiency.

When University of North Texas alumna Jena Maharramov approached him about installing solar panels on some of the houses the organization builds, he thought it was a great idea.

Anderson, construction services manager for Denton County’s Habitat affiliate, said that when Maharramov initially called, he didn’t think he’d be able to accept the offer because it might set a precedent if the organization installs solar panels on some houses and not on others.

But Maharramov, through a nonprofit organization she started, was planning to donate the solar panels and the installation.

“That’s different,” Anderson said. “That’s a gift in kind.”

Maharramov, 26, who earned a degree in public administration from UNT, started the nonprofit, Singularity Solar Energy, in 2010.

She came up with the idea based on a similar program in California, she said.

The organization also offers environmental education and plans to offer workforce education in the future, Maharramov said.

At this point, Singularity is working exclusively with Habitat for Humanity of Denton County.

“I feel like we have similar goals,” Maharramov said of the partnership, adding that both nonprofits have an emphasis on energy efficiency.

Habitat for Humanity works to offer low-cost, energy-efficient, high-quality homes, Anderson said.

Last year, the first solar panels were installed on a house in Sanger. And solar panels were recently installed on three-bedroom, two-bath home at 714 Lakey St. in Denton.

The solar panels can reduce a household’s energy costs by several hundred dollars a year, Maharramov said.

The number of solar panels installed depends on the size of the house, she said. On the Sanger house, eight solar panels were installed, to save an estimated $350 or more in electricity costs for the homeowner, Maharramov said.

The Lakey Street house has nine panels, and the electricity costs should be about the same as the Sanger home, she said.

For the best placement of solar panels, the house has to face the right direction — ideally, south, Anderson said.

The solar panels convert light photons into DC electricity, and then an inverter converts the DC electricity into AC current. The panels can be maintained simply by cleaning them with a water hose.

The solar panels are paid for through donations to Singularity. Green Mountain Energy was the organization’s first corporate donor, Maharramov said.

The nonprofit is looking to attracting more corporate donors for future projects, Maharramov added.

As of 2012, 83,000 residences in the U.S. had solar panels or photovoltaic installations, according to a 2012 report by the Solar Energy Industries Association. Photovoltaic system prices fell by 27 percent in 2012.

Texas ranked ninth in the country in the number of photovoltaic installations in 2012, the report said. This year, the association forecasts that the market will continue to grow nationally by 30 percent.

Staff writer Karina Ramírez contributed to this report.

 

ON THE WEB

Singularity Solar Energy

www.singularitysolar.org

Habitat for Humanity of Denton County

www.hfhdentoncounty.org


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