Environment and Energy

Unions are Powering up With American Solar Partners

July 23, 2013
By Paul Helou

As a leading provider of clean, renewable energy, American Solar Partners (ASP) – a Tuckahoe, New York-based company that develops, designs, and finances solar power projects, both residential and commercial — works with union locals to install solar power systems on their buildings, inspire their members to put solar power on their homes, and assist their contractors to enter the solar market.

Managing Member Lee Smith noted that solar power is one of the most promising sources of renewable energy available — and is becoming more affordable and effective every day. Many home and business owners are discovering the benefits of a PV system (photovoltaic system), such as lowered electricity costs and less pollution.

“We have started a program called Solar Solidarity to bring solar power to all union members,” Smith explained. “And we are working in cooperation with the Long Island Federation of Labor, spreading the word and educating their affiliates. We are geared up and excited about numerous projects lined up this Spring.”

“Most areas embrace solar as a home or building improvement,” he continued. “There are very few barriers and many incentives from the utilities. We do workshops with locals to educate them, as well as offer free site assessments and feasibility studies for their union halls and their homes. It’s an investment, but a solar power system earns about 15 percent a year. Solar energy saves the average home owner about $1200 a year in electric bills, and can add 30k to the value of their home. That’s like getting a raise of 60 cents an hour.”

So far, the staff of American Solar Partners has designed and developed over 200 residential solar projects and 40 commercial projects throughout the US, securing over $5 million in solar grants for these projects.

“Our mission is to make a fair profit while increasing the use of renewable energy and creating good green jobs — meaning union jobs,” Lee said. “Towards that end we sell only Sharp solar modules, made by the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) at the Sharp facility in Tennessee. Further, ASP works closely with IBEW locals, members, and signatory contractors in many states. And all our commercial projects are done exclusively with union contractors.”

And the time for clean, renewable energy has never been more urgent. Recalling the devastating effects of Sandy, Lee added: “The negative repercussions of climate change are being felt right here in our own backyards. It’s not ‘over there’ anymore. It’s not polar bears in the Arctic. It’s home in Long Beach, Long Island. Sandy brought it home to people. 90 million people got the memo in a big way.”

July 23, 2013

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