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Cold Weather Warms Up to Solar Power

When one thinks of “the best places for solar panel systems,” locales in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Florida readily come to mind. After all, you’d figure the more sun, the greater the power, right? You may be surprised to learn that even some of the nation’s coldest places are gung-ho about the benefits of solar energy.

For example, the City University of New York (CUNY) is working on a project that will analyze precisely how much solar energy can be harnessed by homeowners each year. "We're creating a solar map where, on the front end, consumers could plug in their addresses and see how much solar they could get," explains CUNY Sustainability Director Tria Case. This research has been made possible by airplanes that flew over New York with laser-imaging cameras, snapping thousands of ground shots and assessing the heights of various structures for particularly tall, photovoltaic-friendly sites.

Chisago County, Minnesota is another cold-weather destination that is pursuing the power of solar energy. Officials recently voted for a state-federal grant that will install a panels solar system at a hazardous waste disposal facility. This project is expected to cover half the electricity required by the structure, says Facility Supervisor Paul Dennison.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a company called Helios USA began building solar equipment – some of which will be installed locally and others that will be shipped cross-country or even to Europe. "Half of all the modules made in the United States were sold overseas last year,” Helios owner Steve Ostrenga remarks. Given America’s declining manufacturing sector,
solar panel production could be a ray of hope.

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