itek energy https://www.itekenergy.com Power a Thriving Future Wed, 16 May 2018 16:53:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 Dave McCarty of Itek Energy Awarded Manufacturing Executive of the Year for 2018 https://www.itekenergy.com/dave-mccarty-of-itek-energy-awarded-manufacturing-executive-of-the-year-for-2018/ https://www.itekenergy.com/dave-mccarty-of-itek-energy-awarded-manufacturing-executive-of-the-year-for-2018/#respond Thu, 10 May 2018 17:19:59 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/?p=17576 Last Thursday evening, Seattle Business Magazine held the 2018 Washington Manufacturing Awards, honoring excellence in manufacturing throughout the Evergreen State. One man in particular stood out as a “game changer” in his industry—David (or Dave) McCarty, Chief Operating Officer of Itek Energy. Dave was honored and touched to be awarded Manufacturing Executive of the Year for 2018. Since joining Itek Energy in 2015, Dave has seen the company through significant growth and many changes. Itek’s workforce received extensive workforce development training in 2017, thanks to a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce. Dave was excited to oversee this implementation, declaring that, “This process has been well documented to increase manufacturing capacity, strengthen supply chains, attract investment and create new opportunities for growing markets and developing new high-technology jobs.” Dave’s commitment to lean manufacturing has resulted in a culture of continuous improvement at Itek, which he plans to continue into the foreseeable future. Under Dave’s leadership, Itek Energy has moved into a new 48,000 square-foot facility, adopted efficiencies that have cut scrap and rework by eighty percent, and pioneered ways to reuse materials—adding an extra layer of green to this already green industry.     Dave was joined at the […]

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Last Thursday evening, Seattle Business Magazine held the 2018 Washington Manufacturing Awards, honoring excellence in manufacturing throughout the Evergreen State. One man in particular stood out as a “game changer” in his industry—David (or Dave) McCarty, Chief Operating Officer of Itek Energy. Dave was honored and touched to be awarded Manufacturing Executive of the Year for 2018.

Since joining Itek Energy in 2015, Dave has seen the company through significant growth and many changes. Itek’s workforce received extensive workforce development training in 2017, thanks to a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce. Dave was excited to oversee this implementation, declaring that, “This process has been well documented to increase manufacturing capacity, strengthen supply chains, attract investment and create new opportunities for growing markets and developing new high-technology jobs.”

Dave’s commitment to lean manufacturing has resulted in a culture of continuous improvement at Itek, which he plans to continue into the foreseeable future. Under Dave’s leadership, Itek Energy has moved into a new 48,000 square-foot facility, adopted efficiencies that have cut scrap and rework by eighty percent, and pioneered ways to reuse materials—adding an extra layer of green to this already green industry.

 

2018 Washington Manufacturing Awards Itek Team David McCarty, Manufacturing Executive of the Year, 2018 Dave McCarty and the Itek Team David McCarty, 2018 Washington Manufacturing Awards Photo courtesy of Seattle Business Magazine Photo courtesy of Seattle Business Magazine Itek Founder John Flanagan and HR Manager Michelle Simmons Dave and Sunday McCarty

 

Dave was joined at the gala by his lovely wife Sunday, his family, and many members of his team to celebrate with him as he accepted this well-earned award. Members of his team joined him on stage as he gave his acceptance speech. He thanked Seattle Business Magazine for celebrating manufacturing, and went on to say that no one achieves an award like this alone. Dave thanked his wife and family for their ongoing support, and John Flanagan for giving him the opportunity to take the reins as Chief Operating Officer, then he turned and indicated the team behind him.

 

Dave joined on stage by his team

Dave thanks his team during acceptance speech.

Dave went on to say:

“All the people up here with me worked a lot of hours and carried a lot of stress . . . and I can’t thank them enough. This really is a dream job for me. Twenty years ago, in an interview, I was asked, ‘What do you want to do?’ I said, ‘I want to be the COO of a manufacturing company.’ . . . The people are what brought me back to manufacturing. They all have their own story, they all have their own background, and they all contribute their own value to the company. I’m lucky to work with a very intelligent, conscientious group of people that are engaged with what they do every day—providing high-quality product to our customers. . . . And it is the reason I was recognized tonight.”

Itek is proud of what Dave has accomplished, and is proud of the team he is leading. Congratulations to Dave and to all the manufacturing firms honored at this year’s banquet!

See Seattle Business Magazine’s article here.

David McCarty, Manufacturing Executive of the Year, 2018

Image Credit: Hayley Young. Photo courtesy of Seattle Business Magazine.

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Does Your Solar Array Need a Spring Cleaning? https://www.itekenergy.com/pollen-solar-array-need-spring-cleaning/ https://www.itekenergy.com/pollen-solar-array-need-spring-cleaning/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 21:38:08 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/?p=17563 With the beauties of spring comes the pain of pollen. There are many reasons to detest pollen season: allergies, asthma, and struggling to see through a yellow film on your windshield all come to mind. If you have a solar array, you can also add millions of tiny pollen grains obscuring your modules to the list of seasonal annoyances. So, how much of a problem is pollen to your solar array? And what should you do about it?     A Simple Fix The good news is, unlike seasonal allergies, a pollen film on your solar array is an easy fix. In fact, Mother Nature takes care of most of it with her regular springtime rain showers. (Hey, at least there is some reason to be grateful for those April Showers that re-activate our collective Seasonal Affective Disorder.) However pollen is pretty stubborn stuff, and it can be a good idea to rid your solar array of any accumulation before it gets cemented to your modules by the summer sun.   What to Do about Pollen Depending on the placement and accessibility of your solar array, you could take a few different routes. Check out this list of common pollen […]

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With the beauties of spring comes the pain of pollen. There are many reasons to detest pollen season: allergies, asthma, and struggling to see through a yellow film on your windshield all come to mind. If you have a solar array, you can also add millions of tiny pollen grains obscuring your modules to the list of seasonal annoyances.

So, how much of a problem is pollen to your solar array? And what should you do about it?

 

Springtime plants are a source of pollen.

Springtime tulips blooming near Itek HQ. Photo taken by the author.

 

A Simple Fix

The good news is, unlike seasonal allergies, a pollen film on your solar array is an easy fix. In fact, Mother Nature takes care of most of it with her regular springtime rain showers. (Hey, at least there is some reason to be grateful for those April Showers that re-activate our collective Seasonal Affective Disorder.) However pollen is pretty stubborn stuff, and it can be a good idea to rid your solar array of any accumulation before it gets cemented to your modules by the summer sun.

 

Pollen on a car windshield

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brookenovak/437103661

What to Do about Pollen

Depending on the placement and accessibility of your solar array, you could take a few different routes.

Check out this list of common pollen producers in Western Washington. Look at the trees surrounding your array to get an idea of peak pollen production time. You’ll want to target your cleaning for shortly after this timeframe. (Don’t live in Western Washington? Here’s a national map of pollen counts.)

A simple rinse with the hose should clear away enough of the pollen, but it is a good idea to do a thorough cleaning of your solar array occasionally to keep up peak production. Since the best production days are those with the longest daylight hours, spring is a good time to do this cleaning, so the modules will be the least obscured during the peak production time of the year.

As we discussed in this blog post, follow Itek Energy’s Module Cleaning Guidelines for safety and the best results in cleaning your array. If climbing up and down ladders isn’t your thing, many solar contractors also offer cleaning packages.

 

What Happens If I Skip It?

Ideas on this vary, though it is generally agreed that the impact to production is minor. The benefits of regular cleaning, however, are hard to dispute. Like with any chore such as lawn mowing or vacuuming your car, if you maintain it regularly, it takes less effort each time to get a good result.

There are monetary rewards, as well. Depending on the terms of your solar program, the savings can be anywhere from $20 to a few hundred dollars in a season. So it really depends on what’s important to you. At the end of the day, it’s about what makes you happy.

Our team at Itek Energy welcomes the chance to assist you with questions on your solar journey. You can contact us via our website or call 360-647-9531 to speak with a member of our team.

Cleaning a solar array of pollen and other debris.

Itek Energy employees cleaning Itek’s community solar array.

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Itek Energy Pilots US’ First Reusable PV Module Packaging Takeback Program https://www.itekenergy.com/itek-energy-pilots-us-first-reusable-pv-module-packaging-takeback-program/ https://www.itekenergy.com/itek-energy-pilots-us-first-reusable-pv-module-packaging-takeback-program/#respond Fri, 30 Mar 2018 21:22:05 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/?p=17579 As part of a commitment to environmental stewardship, Itek Energy is piloting the first reusable PV module packaging takeback program in the United States. Looking for ways to improve shipping practices and increase the security of their product during transit, Itek adopted the European-designed EckPack system. IDENTIFYING THE OPPORTUNITY This system uses a sturdy black polypropylene piece which fits to each corner of the module. The corner pieces act as spacers as well as corner protectors. The pieces stack like Legos®, preventing the modules from coming into contact with one another and getting damaged in transit. The corners work well for the purpose, and are made of recyclable material, but they offered a further benefit. Itek also noticed that approximately 90% of the polypropylene corners were undamaged and reusable after the initial use. Recognizing the opportunity, Itek implemented a return and reuse program that has proven very popular with customers. “We wanted to develop a program to enable solar installers to easily and efficiently return the packing corners for reuse,” says Evan Bush, Special Projects Coordinator at Itek Energy. “Our goal was to reduce waste and inefficiency, without adding a burden to our customers.” Bush sent out communications to customers to gather […]

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As part of a commitment to environmental stewardship, Itek Energy is piloting the first reusable PV module packaging takeback program in the United States. Looking for ways to improve shipping practices and increase the security of their product during transit, Itek adopted the European-designed EckPack system.

Reusable PV module packaging

EckPack Corners and sturdy, reusable pallets protect Itek PV Modules during shipping.

IDENTIFYING THE OPPORTUNITY

This system uses a sturdy black polypropylene piece which fits to each corner of the module. The corner pieces act as spacers as well as corner protectors. The pieces stack like Legos®, preventing the modules from coming into contact with one another and getting damaged in transit.

The corners work well for the purpose, and are made of recyclable material, but they offered a further benefit. Itek also noticed that approximately 90% of the polypropylene corners were undamaged and reusable after the initial use. Recognizing the opportunity, Itek implemented a return and reuse program that has proven very popular with customers.

“We wanted to develop a program to enable solar installers to easily and efficiently return the packing corners for reuse,” says Evan Bush, Special Projects Coordinator at Itek Energy. “Our goal was to reduce waste and inefficiency, without adding a burden to our customers.” Bush sent out communications to customers to gather feedback about such a program, and received an enthusiastic response.

HOW IT WORKS

Local participating customers are issued large totes that arrive with their shipment of PV modules. These totes can easily be taken to installation sites and used to store the corner pieces as they are removed from the modules prior to installation. The customer then simply swaps out a full bag for an empty one when they pick up their next order. For customers not close enough for will-call, Itek has established a relationship with Oak Harbor Freight Lines to provide pick-up and return of reusable packaging.

Totes to store PV Module corners for Itek's takeback program.

Totes filled with corners for Itek’s takeback program.

The program has been in place for approximately six months, and in that time, Itek has reused around 40,000 pieces – keeping over 5,000 pounds of plastic out of the waste-stream and ensuring that non-reusable pieces are responsibly recycled.

CUSTOMER RESPONSE

Pete Day from Ecotech Solar in Bellingham lauds the program as, “… a great way for us to close the gap on reducing single-use plastic in our operations and contribute to a working ‘reuse’ model. In short, it’s an effortless process that keeps a hefty amount of plastic employed!”

Itek has also reengineered their shipping pallets to increase durability and reusability, and is working out the details of a pallet return program for its customers, as well.

“The system is set up to make the return of pallets and EckPacks easy and infrequent,” says Patrick Daly of Olympia-based South Sound Solar. “Itek’s program further exemplifies their commitment to creating a truly renewable industry.”

For more details about this program, contact Evan Bush, Special Projects Coordinator at 360-647-9531 x118.

Reusable pallets for Itek's takeback program.

Pallets specially designed for re-use.

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Getting to Know Addie Yake https://www.itekenergy.com/getting-to-know-addie-yake/ https://www.itekenergy.com/getting-to-know-addie-yake/#respond Fri, 16 Mar 2018 18:14:18 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/?p=17403 Itek is thrilled to welcome Addie Yake to our team as Account Specialist! Customers calling in to Itek Energy are hearing a new voice on the line. Meet Addie Yake. Friendly, calm, and competent, Addie is here to help. Meaningful Work Originally from Lake Tahoe, California, Addie comes to us most recently from Portland, Oregon. Addie has a history of being attracted to jobs that are meaningful. Itek, she says, caught her attention as an interesting place to work not only because of the environmental aspect, but also “because Itek feels like a significant part of the Bellingham community.” At Itek, Addie looks forward to developing strong relationships with customers. She loves working with people and orchestrating chaotic details into smooth harmony. Addie spent over 5 years as a licensed Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, training cohorts of 4 dogs at a time in guide work, and matching them to potential owners—people who were visually impaired and met the qualifications for owning a guide dog. She would also travel to various regions to check on placements, help matched pairs overcome challenges, and help to assess and train new potential guide dog handlers. Other notable interludes in her career include a stint at […]

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Itek is thrilled to welcome Addie Yake to our team as Account Specialist!

Customers calling in to Itek Energy are hearing a new voice on the line. Meet Addie Yake. Friendly, calm, and competent, Addie is here to help.

Meaningful Work

Originally from Lake Tahoe, California, Addie comes to us most recently from Portland, Oregon. Addie has a history of being attracted to jobs that are meaningful. Itek, she says, caught her attention as an interesting place to work not only because of the environmental aspect, but also “because Itek feels like a significant part of the Bellingham community.”

At Itek, Addie looks forward to developing strong relationships with customers. She loves working with people and orchestrating chaotic details into smooth harmony. Addie spent over 5 years as a licensed Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, training cohorts of 4 dogs at a time in guide work, and matching them to potential owners—people who were visually impaired and met the qualifications for owning a guide dog. She would also travel to various regions to check on placements, help matched pairs overcome challenges, and help to assess and train new potential guide dog handlers.

Other notable interludes in her career include a stint at Microsoft, traveling the globe for a tunnel boring machine manufacturer, and getting drenched during internship with the Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego. Addie went through the Exotic Animal Training and Management program at Moorpark College, and while we have yet to see her corral a herd of runaway PV modules, we know she’d be up to it.

Settling In

Addie is new to Bellingham and is taking advantage of our local terrain to hone her mountain biking skills. When not assisting customers at Itek or shredding mountain biking trails, Addie can be found making functional art on her potter’s wheel or hiking through the PNW wilderness with her husband and their adorable hound, Junebug. Their cat stays home.

Welcome to Itek, Addie!

 

Itek Community Solar Array — Bellingham, WA

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Follow-Up to Itek’s Initial Assessment of the 201 Trade Case https://www.itekenergy.com/follow-up-to-iteks-initial-assessment-of-the-201-trade-case/ https://www.itekenergy.com/follow-up-to-iteks-initial-assessment-of-the-201-trade-case/#respond Tue, 20 Feb 2018 21:37:46 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/follow-up-to-iteks-initial-assessment-of-the-201-trade-case/ In the weeks following the ruling on the Section 201 Trade Case, Itek has established an ongoing channel of communication with the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The USTR is part of the Executive Office of the President and is the agency responsible for developing and recommending US trade policy, as well as conducting trade negotiations. The USTR is responsible for overseeing the deployment of the solar tariffs and has the authority to make changes if deemed necessary for the tariff to have the intended affect – supporting US solar cell and solar module manufacturers. Itek has confirmed that all modules imported into the United States after February 7, 2018 are subject to a 30% tariff, including imports from Canada, Mexico, and other “preferred-trade countries”. The impact of this tariff on the national solar market is still developing. In Washington State, Itek does not expect the tariff to negatively impact the strong solar growth in the next year. The tariff-free 2.5 gigawatts of solar cell imports that are allowed each year under the tariff (the tariff year will be tracked from February 7th to February 6th of the following year) will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. There are […]

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In the weeks following the ruling on the Section 201 Trade Case, Itek has established an ongoing channel of communication with the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The USTR is part of the Executive Office of the President and is the agency responsible for developing and recommending US trade policy, as well as conducting trade negotiations. The USTR is responsible for overseeing the deployment of the solar tariffs and has the authority to make changes if deemed necessary for the tariff to have the intended affect – supporting US solar cell and solar module manufacturers.

Itek has confirmed that all modules imported into the United States after February 7, 2018 are subject to a 30% tariff, including imports from Canada, Mexico, and other “preferred-trade countries”. The impact of this tariff on the national solar market is still developing. In Washington State, Itek does not expect the tariff to negatively impact the strong solar growth in the next year.

The tariff-free 2.5 gigawatts of solar cell imports that are allowed each year under the tariff (the tariff year will be tracked from February 7th to February 6th of the following year) will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. There are safeguards in place that will protect U.S. manufacturers from any misuse or violations of the intended function of this quota.

After review, Itek does not expect the tariffs to negatively impact our material supply or our continued expansion into the national solar market. Itek invested millions of dollars in a new facility in 2017 prior to the tariff ruling, and we are continuing to invest after the ruling, doubling our capacity in the first part of 2018.

We are confident that the ruling on this case, and the continued oversight by the USTR, will support Itek’s continued development with a strong foundation in Washington State and expansion from that foundation into other regions of the United States.

 

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201 Trade Case Outcome — Itek’s Initial Assessment  https://www.itekenergy.com/201-trade-case-outcome-iteks-initial-assessment/ https://www.itekenergy.com/201-trade-case-outcome-iteks-initial-assessment/#respond Wed, 24 Jan 2018 21:46:41 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/201-trade-case-outcome-iteks-initial-assessment/ On Monday, in response to the 201 Trade Case, the President levied tariffs on imported solar modules and on solar cells above an annual cap of 2.5 GW. Many people have asked how this will affect Itek. We are still evaluating the details of the ruling as they become available, and until the full details are available next week, we won’t have a detailed prediction. However, Itek has worked hard to establish itself on solid ground, to continue to grow through the fluctuations that come with the solar industry. That is not going to change. The sun will still shine, and we will still create a product that can harnass that energy. The Washington solar industry has always been incredibly supportive of Itek and we are confident that, whatever the outcome, solar will remain strong in Washington. These are links to the official statement and to a fact sheet from the US Trade Representative in the Office of the President, which is the information we have to work with at this time. We may have further updates as more information becomes available. White House Statement and Trade Representative – https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2018/january/president-trump-approves-relief-us Factsheet – https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/Press/fs/201%20Cases%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf  

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On Monday, in response to the 201 Trade Case, the President levied tariffs on imported solar modules and on solar cells above an annual cap of 2.5 GW.

Many people have asked how this will affect Itek. We are still evaluating the details of the ruling as they become available, and until the full details are available next week, we won’t have a detailed prediction. However, Itek has worked hard to establish itself on solid ground, to continue to grow through the fluctuations that come with the solar industry. That is not going to change. The sun will still shine, and we will still create a product that can harnass that energy. The Washington solar industry has always been incredibly supportive of Itek and we are confident that, whatever the outcome, solar will remain strong in Washington.

These are links to the official statement and to a fact sheet from the US Trade Representative in the Office of the President, which is the information we have to work with at this time. We may have further updates as more information becomes available.

White House Statement and Trade Representative – https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2018/january/president-trump-approves-relief-us

Factsheet – https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/Press/fs/201%20Cases%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

 

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Module manufacturer Itek bucks trend, opens new factory https://www.itekenergy.com/module-manufacturer-itek-bucks-trend-opens-new-factory/ https://www.itekenergy.com/module-manufacturer-itek-bucks-trend-opens-new-factory/#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 17:50:06 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/?p=17332   Module manufacturer Itek bucks trend, opens new factory

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Module manufacturer Itek bucks trend, opens new factory

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Itek Energy Cuts the Ribbon at New Bellingham Facility https://www.itekenergy.com/itek-energy-cuts-the-ribbon-at-new-bellingham-facility/ https://www.itekenergy.com/itek-energy-cuts-the-ribbon-at-new-bellingham-facility/#respond Fri, 06 Oct 2017 21:46:43 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/itek-energy-cuts-the-ribbon-at-new-bellingham-facility/ Bellingham, WA, October 4, 2017—With the Pacific Northwest’s solar community looking on, Itek Energy’s Founder John Flanagan cut the ribbon to the company’s new 48,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Bellingham. Officials from both the City and the Port of Bellingham shared their excitement at this addition to Bellingham’s downtown waterfront area. Bellingham’s Mayor Kelli Linville was on hand to say a few words, as was Rob Fix, Executive for the Port of Bellingham. Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville takes the podium. “When we had our first meeting about the waterfront, this was the kind of business that we imagined would be down here,” Mayor Linville said, “Homegrown, able to expand, and good for our environment and our green power.” Mayor Linville also applauded the repurposing of the old Georgia Pacific warehouse for Itek’s new facility, and the fact that it will bring more jobs to Bellingham’s downtown core. Rob Fix spoke for the Port of Bellingham to share their excitement at the success of this project. Owner and Founder John Flanagan cuts the ribbon. Photo by Peter James Studios. Just before cutting the ribbon, Flanagan spoke to the crowd, thanking the City of Bellingham and Port of Bellingham for their collaboration […]

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Bellingham, WA, October 4, 2017—With the Pacific Northwest’s solar community looking on, Itek Energy’s Founder John Flanagan cut the ribbon to the company’s new 48,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Bellingham.

Officials from both the City and the Port of Bellingham shared their excitement at this addition to Bellingham’s downtown waterfront area. Bellingham’s Mayor Kelli Linville was on hand to say a few words, as was Rob Fix, Executive for the Port of Bellingham.

Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville takes the podium.

“When we had our first meeting about the waterfront, this was the kind of business that we imagined would be down here,” Mayor Linville said, “Homegrown, able to expand, and good for our environment and our green power.” Mayor Linville also applauded the repurposing of the old Georgia Pacific warehouse for Itek’s new facility, and the fact that it will bring more jobs to Bellingham’s downtown core. Rob Fix spoke for the Port of Bellingham to share their excitement at the success of this project.

Owner and Founder John Flanagan cuts the ribbon. Photo by Peter James Studios.

Just before cutting the ribbon, Flanagan spoke to the crowd, thanking the City of Bellingham and Port of Bellingham for their collaboration on the project, and the solar installers—in Washington State and beyond—who support Itek’s business. Flanagan also made a special point of thanking “Itek’s hard-working employees, who made this transition possible.”

Karl Unterschuetz, Director of Business Development for Itek Energy, led the crowd through a tour of the new facility. Unterschuetz pointed out that, with the increased capacity from the new factory, Itek is placed among the largest solar manufacturers in the United States. The new facility will have the ability to produce 150 megawatts a year, and Itek will also keep its existing facility in Bellingham’s Irongate District, bringing Itek’s total capacity to 210 megawatts per year.

   

Karl Unterschuetz leads a tour of the new facility

With a whole new line of cutting-edge equipment, Itek’s new factory produces high-power, five-busbar solar modules in both 60 and 72 cell, with a power range of 300–370 watts. Known for building quality solar products, Itek’s unique vision of providing the United States with PV modules from high-tech, efficient factories placed close to local markets is well on its way to being fulfilled.

# # #

About Itek Energy

Itek Energy is an American solar manufacturer with factories in Washington and Minnesota. Itek takes pride in offering high-quality, assembled-in-America solar modules with an exemplary reliability record. Our experienced team shares a passion for solar energy and is committed to making a positive impact, providing access to clean solar energy.

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Ash on Your Solar Array — What to Do? https://www.itekenergy.com/ash-on-your-solar-array-what-to-do/ https://www.itekenergy.com/ash-on-your-solar-array-what-to-do/#comments Wed, 06 Sep 2017 21:46:43 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/ash-on-your-solar-array-what-to-do/ The Sky Is Falling With wildfires raging though much of the Western United States, people from Southern California to British Columbia are surrounded with hazy skies, poor air quality—and in some cases—a sifting of ash over everything in sight. Residents of Western Washington, where Itek Energy is headquartered, have taken to social media to post pictures of cars covered in ash, ash falling from the sky on the daily commute, and ash settling on their homes. A smokey sun over Itek 9/5/17 Impact on Your Solar Production Expect a drop in your solar production during this time. Unlike clouds or fog, air pollution from wildfires will absorb light, reducing the amount of light that can reach your solar modules. In addition to the darkening skies, the ash that falls on your system will provide a further barrier to power production. Cleaning Guidelines As with ash on your vehicle, just brushing the ash off of your solar array is not the best solution. I asked Sam Winters, Itek’s Application Engineer, for advice about cleaning up an ash buildup on an active solar array. Sam advises home and business owners to follow the Itek Energy Module Cleaning Guidelines to safely and effectively […]

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The Sky Is Falling

With wildfires raging though much of the Western United States, people from Southern California to British Columbia are surrounded with hazy skies, poor air quality—and in some cases—a sifting of ash over everything in sight.

Residents of Western Washington, where Itek Energy is headquartered, have taken to social media to post pictures of cars covered in ash, ash falling from the sky on the daily commute, and ash settling on their homes.

A smokey sun over Itek 9/5/17

Impact on Your Solar Production

Expect a drop in your solar production during this time. Unlike clouds or fog, air pollution from wildfires will absorb light, reducing the amount of light that can reach your solar modules. In addition to the darkening skies, the ash that falls on your system will provide a further barrier to power production.

Cleaning Guidelines

As with ash on your vehicle, just brushing the ash off of your solar array is not the best solution.

I asked Sam Winters, Itek’s Application Engineer, for advice about cleaning up an ash buildup on an active solar array. Sam advises home and business owners to follow the Itek Energy Module Cleaning Guidelines to safely and effectively remove the ash buildup. Here are some highlights from that document:

Sam Winters, Aplications Engineer

  • Make sure you perform this task in the morning or on an overcast day. Cleaning while the modules are hot could result in rapid cooling which could damage the modules.
  • Use soft, non-abrasive materials such as a microfiber mop. Avoid metal tools as they will scratch your module.
  • Water is usually enough to clean off the average solar array, however to get rid of the ash, you may want to use a cleaning product. If so, it is very important to find a product that is:
    • Non-Abrasive
    • pH Neutral
    • Biodegradable

Dish soap works great. There are plenty of products on the market that will meet the case, but it is important to note that a                 product that does not meet these criteria could damage your modules. Products that contain chemicals or solvents like Rain-X           or Windex should never be used.

  • Once you have cleaned your modules, rinse them thoroughly to avoid leaving any residue behind. Unlike your car, your modules do not have a paint job to protect, but they do have a textured glass where minerals can collect. So it is always important to use a squeegee to scrape off any remaining water which can deposit sediments and leave a splotching effect on the glass.

And most importantly…

  • Always use caution and proper fall protection if roof access is required for cleaning.

Stay Safe Out There

With no immediate relief in sight, it is important to protect yourself and your property from wildfires and wildfire smoke.  

Eagle Creek, OR Fire – 12-hr Timelapse

Stay abreast of your local air quality reports and limit your outdoor activity if there is heavy smoke in your area. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with respiratory or heart conditions are most at risk of being affected by smoke. Check in with neighbors and friends who may be vulnerable to the effects of smoke.

Fighting climate change is becoming more and more important, and as a user of solar power, you are contributing to that effort. At Itek, we’re here to support you. Contact us if you have any questions about our U.S.-built, high-efficiency modules or optimizing your solar array for more energy yeild.

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Success! Washington’s New Solar Program Will Develop Our Clean Economy https://www.itekenergy.com/success-washingtons-new-solar-program-will-develop-our-clean-economy/ https://www.itekenergy.com/success-washingtons-new-solar-program-will-develop-our-clean-economy/#respond Thu, 20 Jul 2017 21:46:45 +0000 https://www.itekenergy.com/success-washingtons-new-solar-program-will-develop-our-clean-economy/ After years of hard work by dedicated solar installers, key legislators, electric utilities, and other stakeholders, Washington State now has an improved solar program! The new program will help drive the Washington State solar industry forward, while at the same time ramping down the state incentive rates over the next few years. This victory is largely owed to Washington’s leading solar installers, who put many dedicated hours into crafting a solar program that I think will ultimately serve the industry well. SOLAR ALLIES Many of Olympia’s lawmakers also worked hard on this solar legislation over the years. In the end there was strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and I think it’s important to recognize those lawmakers who sponsored the solar bill, championed it, and finally got it over the goal line. A hardy thank-you to Representative Jeff Morris and Representative Norma Smith for their tireless efforts to make the solar program better. They were both willing to dive in with all the stakeholders, hammering out solutions and compromises to get the solar legislation where it needed to be. I have been humbled by the amount of effort and dedication it takes for legislators to champion […]

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After years of hard work by dedicated solar installers, key legislators, electric utilities, and other stakeholders, Washington State now has an improved solar program! The new program will help drive the Washington State solar industry forward, while at the same time ramping down the state incentive rates over the next few years. This victory is largely owed to Washington’s leading solar installers, who put many dedicated hours into crafting a solar program that I think will ultimately serve the industry well.

SOLAR ALLIES

Many of Olympia’s lawmakers also worked hard on this solar legislation over the years. In the end there was strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and I think it’s important to recognize those lawmakers who sponsored the solar bill, championed it, and finally got it over the goal line.

A hardy thank-you to Representative Jeff Morris and Representative Norma Smith for their tireless efforts to make the solar program better. They were both willing to dive in with all the stakeholders, hammering out solutions and compromises to get the solar legislation where it needed to be. I have been humbled by the amount of effort and dedication it takes for legislators to champion bills through the sausage grinder of our legislative system.

Thank you to Senator John McCoy for championing the bill in the Senate, and to Senator Doug Ericksen for sponsoring the Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5939 that ultimately made it to Governor Inslee’s desk to be signed. Governor Inslee is a strong supporter of growing a clean economy in Washington State, and the passage of this solar program is one key step in this vision.

 Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cop21/23563078076

WHY THIS LEGISLATION MATTERS

There are several great summaries of the program available at SIW and elsewhere, so I am not going to summarize the bill. Instead, I will focus on what the new program means for the solar industry in Washington as whole and what it means for Itek Energy.

The solar industry in Washington State has slowed a little in the past year-and-a-half as the utilities began to reach their legislative caps under the original program. The new program is going to turn that around immediately.

JOBS

The solar industry is a job-producer. By supporting the solar industry in Washington State, the legislature is contributing to the growth of local, high-quality jobs and a green economy.

Bellingham Food Bank InstallationBellingham Foodbank Solar Array – Itek Modules

STABILITY

The uncertainty that plagued the previous solar program is now gone. The new solar program raises the incentive caps three times higher, and provides eight years of incentive payments to new residential, commercial, and utility-owned solar projects. From this foundation of predictability we will see not only a growth in the residential solar market, but also in the newly-created opportunity for large-scale projects—up to 1,000 kw in size for commercial and 5,000 kw in size for utility. These are major additions to Washington’s solar program, and I expect to see a correspondingly sharp increase in the solar installation rate by the end of the year.

Another market driver is the provision for a fixed eight years of incentive payments, with a cap at 50% of the cost of the project. That means a project owner will receive the same economic benefit over the life of the system—regardless of what time of year the system is installed. This will result in stronger solar sales through the winter months, and a more stable solar market.

GROWTH

The new solar program has a budget of $110 million and a goal to install 115 megawatts by 2020. I think attaining both of those benchmarks is within the capabilities of our local solar industry. In 2015, Washington State installers built over 25 megawatts worth of projects, with Itek suppling nearly all with Washington made modules. With the new legislation, we are poised to do it again. Even though the state is ramping down on the incentive rates for Made-in-Washington modules from $0.54/kwh to $0.21/kwh, Itek has grown—expanding into a new factory this summer and realizing economies of scale—allowing for significant price reductions.

LARGE-SCALE PROJECTS

Domestically manufactured solar modules are more important than ever. Washington’s new incentive program is opening up markets for installations up to 5,000 kw in size. Until now, our state has only had a few projects on this scale, so we are about to see a lot more. In our new factory, Itek will be the first in the US to manufacture a five bus bar, 72 cell module with integrated optimization (370 watt peak). By integrating optimization and long-string capability, Itek’s new 72 cell modules will reduce costs and boost power. Our 370 watt, 72 cell module will be a strong contender for many of the new commercial and community solar projects that will be installed under the new incentive program.

RESIDENTIAL

With the new, stable incentive program, Washington’s residential solar market is poised to rise again. Competition for these projects will be close, and Itek is again positioned to provide strong value to Washington State homeowners. Itek’s new, five bus bar 60 cell module delivers at 305 watts; and with our new factory’s capacity, Itek will be able to offer a more competitive price.

Habitat for Humanity Solar Install with Itek Modules. Photo Credit: Greg Williams, Sunergy Systems. 

SUMMARY

I expect the new incentive program will boost Washington’s solar market in the next couple years. Our recent expansion, LEAN training, low overhead, and nimble nature put Itek in a strong position to support Washington’s solar industry growth over the next few years.

Itek is committed to being Washington’s number one supplier of solar modules. Washington’s solar market has been critical to our success and this new legislation will continue to play a major role in Itek’s development by providing the foundation that we can build upon to launch our product on a national scale and support the national solar industry with high-quality, US-manufactured solar modules.

From the beginning, Itek has had a goal of achieving independence from government incentives. John Flanagan, owner and founder of Itek Energy, envisioned that if we kept the overhead low, used the best equipment in the industry, and trained employees well we could compete with anyone else manufacturing in the US. I believe Itek has arrived. We are continuing to grow our national presence while supporting the next stage of Washington’s solar growth.

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