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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Turtle Friendly Solar Lights Keep Nesting Turtles Safe

Posted by SEPCO

8/30/11 9:30 AM

Lights near nesting turtles can make a good thing go bad quickly. Installing turtle friendly lights in those areas can increase the safety and security of the turtles, both parents laying the eggs and babies when they hatch. This is because turtles can't see the amber glow of special lamps used for these types of projects. SEPCO has completed two projects recently in partnership with Beacon Products to do exactly that.

City of Bradenton Turtle Friendly Solar Lights

The City of Bradenton Beach needed to install new lights to lower utility costs and still be turtle friendly. The installation replaced 100 Watt high pressure sodium street lights along the city's main streets with solar powered LED lights using only 17 Watts per lumiare. Just replacing the lights with LED's would lower the utility costs, but by powering the lights by solar they will have no utility cost and save thousands of pounds of carbon emissions.

Coastal City Turtle Friendly Solar Light

Another coastal city installed the same type of solar lights along the main road just off the beach. The lights shine mostly on the sidewalk for the neighborhood residences to walk around safely at night, but also help protect the baby turtles hatching on the beaches nearby. The solar lights were also less expensive than trenching for standard electrical lights.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Street Lighting, Turtle Friendly Lighting

Solar Lighting and Off-Grid Solar Power

Posted by SEPCO

8/25/11 9:30 AM

Most people are familiar with solar panels to power a home or building, or used to heat water, but many people overlook the multitude of other uses for solar. Solar can be used to light up a pathway, light up the building’s parking lot, or even be used to light entire streets and highways. Each light can be powered by a single solar array or you can string multiple lights together and run them on a single larger solar array. Whatever the application or need, solar can be used to power it.

Solar CameraSolar can also be used to power devices such as cameras, WiFi systems, and other devices. These devices can stand alone from the regular power grid, or be integrated with the grid as a backup system. A good example is using cameras at a construction site while the property is not being worked on for monitoring to deter theft. Once the project is completed, the cameras can be moved to the next location.

Solar Parking Lot LightingSolar lighting has many applications as well. Parking lots, roadways, signs, billboards, practically everything can be lit up using solar power. The solar lights can be a green alternative to new lighting projects or retrofitted into existing lighting applications to reduce power consumption and cost. They can be customized to the customer’s desired lighting levels and fixture requirements. Standard Cobrahead fixtures to architecturally designed fixtures all can be retrofitted to utilize solar energy.

For the next project you may come across, look into utilizing solar to power the need. No matter what the application, there is always a green alternative that will not only help the earth, but will also provide a free solution for many years.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Power

Top 10 EcoFriendly Celebrities

Posted by SEPCO

8/23/11 9:30 AM

Green HollywoodAs we all know, the list is endless on the number of celebrities that are helping the world by going green and creating companies, awareness, and causes to help others do their part in improving the environment. This is a list of just 10 of those that come to mind.

1. Cate Blanchett is a top solar celebrity not only because her home is completely powered by solar, but she also helped get solar panels installed at the Sydney Theatre Company to help reduce power consumption. The Sydney Theatre Company also utilizes a rainwater collection system to reduce water usage.

2. Daryl Hannah is another great solar celebrity. She owns a bio-fueled car, has a home that is entirely off the grid, and is a great activist on anything to do with conservation and sustainability. She now has her website where she posts videos and news updates on things going on around the world.

3. Edward Norton not only has his home powered by solar, but also helps less privileged families do the same. Norton established a non-profit called BP Solar Neighbors. Every celebrity that joins the program by purchasing a BP Solar Home, BP will donate a solar system to a low income family inCalifornia. Hopefully other companies will follow Norton’s example and establish similar programs in other areas of the nation and world.

4. Woody Harrelson is not only famous for all his Academy Award winning movies, but he also lives in a community in Hawaii that is entirely solar powered. He also focuses on biodiesel, organic farming, protecting animals and the redwoods, and just about anything else that has to do with going green.

5. Willie Nelson is a long time advocate for family farmers and is the president of Farm Aid. Nelson is trying to promote buying goods from local farmers and allowing the families to keep and live off the land that they have been working for generations. He also runs his four tour buses on biodiesel along with his own personal vehicles and is the founder of Willie Nelson Biodiesel Company.

6. Brad Pitt is the co-creator of a design competition to build environmentally friendly homes to help rebuild New Orleans after the tragedies that occurred with the onset of Hurricane Katrina. He also narrates the series to build awareness on environmental issues worldwide while building environmental conscious. He has also been part of the BP Solar Neighbors program as well as a long list of other environmental and humanitarian programs.

7. Leonardo DiCaprio narrates Global Warming and Water Planet, wrote and produced The 11th Hour, and drives a prius. He also founded The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation that works to create a sustainable future.

8. Jane Goodall is one of the world’s most known environmental activists there are and is a renowned primatologist. The Jane Goodall Institute is global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things. Not only does she fight for the rights of primates, but the earth as a whole.

9. Robert Redford created The Green channel on the Sundance network to showcase original series and documentaries on living green. Duke University also awarded him The Duke LEAF Award to honor his work to create environmental awareness by being a congressional lobbyist, advocating for renewable energy, and helping with the preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

10. Josh Hartnett, Orlando Bloom, Maroon 5, Kt Tunstall, Pink, Leonardo DiCaprio and many more have come together to work on the project Global Cool. This organization provides information for people to think and live differently, with being green top priority.

Do your part, leave a comment below and let me know about any other green celebrities or activists that we missed. I’d love to do a follow up article and get all the names out there.

Img RefZoom Kitty Zoom Designs™ - Fashion Design Studio - Cruelty-free and Eco Friendly Fashion Designer

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Power

Posted by SEPCO

8/18/11 9:30 AM

Solar Power Station

There has been a lot of debate online about the advantages and disadvantages of solar. Whether you are using it to power a large application, run lighting, or heating water, there is always pros and cons to the situation.

Advantages include:

  • Solar is green. It produces no greenhouse gases and is completely renewable and will never run out.
  • No trenching is needed since the solar can be close to or at the place where it is needed most. 
  • Solar is low maintenance. Once installed it pretty much takes care of itself.
  • If grid tied, you can sell the excess power you generate back to the power company. If it is not grid intertied, you can do something few people can do and disconnect the power lines to your house.

Disadvantages include:

  • High upfront cost associated with purchasing the panels and installation of the system. Over time the system will pay for itself, but the initial sticker shock deters a lot of people from taking the first step.
  • Unless you have battery storage, the solar power produced during the day will not be available after the sun goes down. The solar hot water is still stored in a tank for night usage.
  • Space usage can also be an issue for some people as the square footage needed to produce enough power can be quite large, but then again what else do people use their roof for.

Solar power is worth looking into whether the project is large or small. Every little thing done to help the earth go green is one step forward to independence from non-renewable sources. What ways are you working towards you own energy independence?

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Topics: Solar Power

SEPCO Completes LED Solar Walkway Lighting Project at USMC Base

Posted by SEPCO

8/16/11 9:30 AM

Solar unit operates 4 Slide fixtures on long walkway sm
SEPCO recently completed a solar LED walkway lighting retrofit project at a US Marine Corps Bachelor Enlisted Quarters. This installation allows for improvement on energy security and reduces current energy usage on the base. The new fixtures were selected to match the old lighting fixtures in design to fit the architectural integrity of the area and allow for more efficient LED technology to be used in conjunction with solar power. The project also allowed for lower costs by utilizing the existing light poles.

 Parking Lot Before Solar / LED  Parking Lot After Solar / LED
 Parking Lot Before Solar  Parking Lot After Solar

Mandates currently set forth by the US Federal Government pertaining to federal facilities make solar LED lighting an ideal solution. One requirement is that federally owned property and buildings are mandated to materially reduce current energy use. A second requirement is to improve energy security by employing renewable power that operates independent of the electrical utility grids.

 Pathway Before Solar Walkway Before Solar / LED
Walkway After Solar / LED  Pathway After Solar

At US Marine Corps Bachelor Enlisted Quarters installation there were 143 area and walkway lights long installed and operating. The light fixtures were post top pole mounted luminaries using high energy consuming 150 Watt high pressure sodium lamps. The goal of the project was to disconnect the BEQ lighting and retrofit with much lower Watt, higher quality, longer operating life light from solar power, thus, the area would be completely off a costly, potentially compromised public electrical grid.

Walkway Before Solar / LED  Sidwalk Before Solar
 Walkway After Solar  Walkway After Solar / LED

The most efficient, economical way to meet federal mandates was to reuse the existing light poles and attach the new, more efficient LED post top fixtures that provide equal or better quality light than high pressure sodium. Technical calculations determine that 18 Watt LED direct Slide light fixtures from Beacon Products provide superior illumination. All existing light poles were reused with existing underground conduits and wiring in most locations. SEPCO’s ground mounted stand alone solar electric power arrays were installed, able to operate up to four fixtures each.

The USMC BEQ light fixtures operate dusk to dawn by using the solar panels themselves to sense day and night times. They formerly consumed 257,400 Watts of costly grid power each night. The new LED solar lights operate with improved white lighting quality, far lower maintenance costs, and higher visual acuity for enhanced facility security. The new solar units draw zero Watts electricity and are completely independent of an outside electrical grid utility.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, General Lighting, SEPCO News & Information, LED Lighting, Pathway Lighting

Solar Lighting to Improve Life in Africa

Posted by SEPCO

8/11/11 9:30 AM

Africa Picture 3 x 5Stand-alone solar is an important power option in Africa.  In many African countries, the electrical grid is unreliable, and in the rural areas, often completely absent.  There is a collaborative effort called Lighting Africa, to encourage solar lighting options in Africa.  SEPCO was proud to have been one of the 52 finalists in the Lighting Africa Development Marketplace competition held in Accra, Ghana, May 6-8, 2008. The competition is still held yearly.

Solar lighting and solar power systems are especially needed in developing countries as the funds to provide reliable power often do not exist. Instead, purchasing quality solar systems for solar street lighting, solar security lighting, and solar home power allows a one-time cost and builds sustainability.

Check out the LADM Brochure for more information about SEPCO's and the other 51 finalists' proposals.  Visit the Lighting Africa website to keep in touch with their efforts to provide sustainable lighting solutions and improve the daily lives of those in developing countries in Africa

About the Author: Sylvi works with SEPCO to provide sustainable solutions in Africa. To contact Sylvi, please email or use our contact form and we will make sure it is recieved.

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Topics: Solar Lighting, Guest Post, SEPCO News & Information

A Newbies Guide To Renewable Energy - Infographic

Posted by SEPCO

8/9/11 9:30 AM

I found an amazing article that explains in a great infographic information on all forms of renewable energy. As the fastest growing energy sector providing thousands of jobs and providing a clean and renewable way to electrify our world. Now if Florida and the rest of the southern region would just catch up with California and Texas we'd be in good shape. What are your thoughts?

renewable energy thumb resized 600

Source: Carrington College: Renewable Energy Degree Program

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Topics: Green Ideas, Infographics

10 Forgotten Ways To Go Green and be Environmentally Friendly

Posted by SEPCO

8/4/11 10:30 AM

MC900437329 resized 6001. Recycle your cell phone – components can be reused even if the phone does not work anymore.

2. Put chargers on a power strip, that way when everything is done charging the power strip can be turned off till the next time the chargers are needed. You can even plug them into an outlet that has a switch.

3. Grill more in the summer and bake more in the winter. It will lower heating and cooling costs by not creating extra heat in the summers and adding heat from the oven in the winter.

4. Reuse everything possible. Look at things that get thrown out think about how it can be reused. Be creative.

5. If it can’t be reused, can it be recycled? Composted? What other eco-friendly way can it be disposed of?

6. Buy efficient everything. In the market for a new appliance? Redoing a bathroom? Check to see if there are efficient options available. Everything from computers to major household appliances now has a green alternative.

7. Use non-toxic when available. Paints, cleaners, and other household items have non-toxic alternatives that work as well if not better than the toxic varieties.

8. Buy recycled items. Not just packaging and office products, but recycled jewelry, containers, clothes, building materials, etc. There are thousands of products for just about every use that is made from recycled materials. Some are even very creative and even pieces of art.

9. Save trees and use a computer for almost everything. Need to find a local business or directions? Skip the phone book and use online services. Need to send invitations, send an evite. Read the newspaper online instead of having the paper edition delivered.

10. Buy produce from a green market or local farmers market. Even better, gather a few family members or friends and go to the local “you pick it” and get a great discount while buying local. It’s also a great way to bond and get everyone outdoors.

What other ways can we all go green? Tell us what we forgot and we will do a follow up with your ideas.

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Topics: Green Ideas

What is it that a solar panel does?

Posted by SEPCO

8/2/11 10:30 AM

P1010665 resized 600
So while you are traveling around you see solar panels here and there. There are solar panels power cameras or a sign on the side of the highway. There are solar panels that even power homes and buildings. There are even solar panels powering lighting all over the world. Do you know how they work? How they produce the electricity to run the device? Let’s see if we can break this down.

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. This happens due to light photons striking a solar cell and knocking electrons free from the silicon atoms of the crystal structure of the cell. This energy is then fed into the device either directly, through an inverter to the device, or more commonly into a battery. Once the energy goes to its destination, the electrons move back to the solar cell and start their journey again.

The solar modules come in a variety of Wattages and can be put together in series to create even more power. Depending on the needs of the device or devices and the geographic location of the installation determines the needed amount of solar for power. For example one light inTexas may use an 85 Watt panel, but the same light would need a larger panel, or panels put into series in Michigan. Making sure that the correct Wattage necessary for the application is critical when determining the solar panel used. Even if the solar cannot power the house due to location, it can produce some electricity to help offset the overall electric costs. If you are interested in utilizing solar for any application, talk to a solar professional to help determine exactly what you need. What other applications have you seen solar being utilized?

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Topics: Solar Power

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