Monday, January 27, 2014
The center is in the former Lambert's Masonry location at 13620 Highway 99, just north of Hughes Ski Hut in north Chico.
Residents can visit the center, either to do initial research about how a solar power installation could benefit them, or ready to talk design, measurements and money.
McClung noted the center provides details about solar electrical installations, as well as cost, configurations and more.
The center was launched by the partners' company Alternative Energy Systems, a Chico company that started in 2003. AES has partnered with solar panel manufacturer Sunpower, selling its systems, but the company ownership remains completely in the partners' hands.
"It's come from years of dealing with this company and their products," McClung said, adding that AES can also deal with other solar manufacturers.
The design center is adjacent to AES' offices, and offers an opportunity to see the solar panels and other details about solar installations, plus working out calculations like utility cost savings.
McClung noted homeowners may not want to have a solar contractor in their homes during initial interviews, which is why the center is set up with semi-private offices for discussions.
A lot can be discovered from utility statements, and McClung recommends that anyone interested in visiting the center should bring one along.
He noted AES takes care of the designs for both residential and business structures, as well as obtaining the permits and installation. The company can also provide information about tax credit programs, as well as talk about lease and loan programs.
AES can design a solar array that includes provisions for a vehicle charging station, and has such a station on display at the center for its own alternative-energy vehicles.
It actually is a public charging station that AES put in with cooperation from Corning Ford, which sells electric "plug-in" vehicles and was interested in assisting.
There's no doubt such electric cars are gaining interest, especially as the charging technology matures.
"If you're inclined to explore solar power, you're probably inclined to research electric vehicles," Hamor noted.
The center also provides room for meetings and employee training for the growing company, which reached 27 employees with the new center.
One aspect that interests the partners is reaching out into college and high-school classrooms to educate students about solar processes and employment.
"Solar is so new that the academic world isn't quite keeping up," said McClung, who said his company has the background.
Earlier this year, it helped a vocational class at Pleasant Valley High School learn how to install a solar system, working with instructor Jerry Joiner, who is known for his vocational programs around the county.
AES has completed more than 500 solar installations around the north state since the company's inception. The company's web is www.solarenergyforlife.com