Alaska housing development embraces solar and PV as source of heat and electricity

The 70-unit Ridgeline Terrace housing project, set to be completed this month, will include 84 solar thermal panels and 325 photovoltaic panels incorporated into the architecture of nine buildings in the complex.

GenPro Energy Solutions in Piedmont, S.D., supplied the solar systems for the Anchorage project. The thermal panels will heat water, reducing natural gas use. The photovoltaic panels will generate electricity, reducing overall power demand and cutting utility costs. 

“There has  always been this idea that solar power is possible only in places with a lot of bright sunshine,” said Tim Teeslink, GenPro’s Solar Energy Technical Specialist. “But Anchorage is fairly cloudy — just 126 sunny or partly sunny days, compared with 164 days in Seattle — and we are able to show that solar is a viable source of heat and electricity here.” 

The photovoltaic panels will generate up to 88 kilowatts of power, or nearly 63,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, Teeslink estimates. The thermal panels will produce nearly 2.8 million Btu to heat the housing units. 

Tyler Loken, owner of Loken Construction in Anchorage, a subcontractor on this project, said Ridgeline Terrace is one of a couple of GenPro Energy projects he has been involved in either as a contractor or a subcontractor.

Loken said solar energy is popular in Anchorage. A recent story in the Mountain View Post, the neighborhood newspaper, called the move toward solar a “roofline revolution.” More than 500 solar panels dot the walls and roofs of the neighborhood, the story said.

According to GenPro, one reason that developers are opting for solar now is the Solar Investment Tax Credit, a 30 percent federal tax credit that is set to expire at the end of 2016. The credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal taxes. It has been in place since 2006, and it has helped support the solar energy industry as it innovates and becomes more competitive with non-renewal energy sources.

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