As we gear up to greet 2017, I find it encouraging to take a little time and reflect with gratitude on how far we in the solar industry have come in the last several years.
Renewable energy is rapidly on the rise around the country. In an otherwise polarized society, people agree on one thing—renewable energy is the way forward. Here at Itek Energy, we are proud to be a part of that progress, and we’d like to share with you some of the highlights from this last year.
In a year that saw an unprecedented drop in the price of solar, Itek has worked tirelessly to maintain our high standards of quality in manufacturing while aligning our prices to be competitive with the solar giants dominating the industry. With our hard-won competitive pricing and reputation for excellence, Itek is tapping into the national market. We are expanding into California and Oregon, growing our Minnesota market base, and even setting our sights abroad.
We have expanded our staff, hiring 2 new Regional Sales Managers and developing a marketing department. In September, we launched an all-new website, which highlights our new logo and features our first corporate video. If you haven’t already, head over to www.itekenergy.com to take a look at what is new, including the new faces on our team.
Our Minnesota team more than doubled sales of Itek’s Made-in-Minnesota solar modules in 2016, and Paul Krumrich, Itek’s General Manager in Minnesota, was picked to lead the 1-megawatt Solar Garden project utilizing Itek modules. The project will be completed in 2017.
New Manufacturing Facility
This year, Itek purchased a 48,000 square foot building on two acres in Bellingham’s historic industrial waterfront district. The building will undergo a comprehensive restoration process, led by Faber Construction. A full new line of equipment is ready to be placed in the facility, bringing Itek’s projected capacity to 120 MW per year by the end of Phase II. Itek is scheduled to move into the new facility in May of 2017.
2016 saw the release of Itek’s new SE modules, which use M2 cells and broke 300-watts. The SE modules lead the industry in PID resistance, passing the 500 hour PID-free test. Like all of Itek’s modules, the SE is ARRA, BAA, and TAA Solar Project Compliant.
Itek’s dedication to long-range sustainability has us paving the way in the industry. We are the only solar manufacturer to participate in the Declare label, making Itek modules a natural pick for all Living Building Challenge projects.
Stewardship, Outreach, and Community Involvement
Itek has always valued community involvement and environmental stewardship, and 2016 was a very busy year!
2016 was the first year of production for Itek’s Community Solar Array, which generated approximate 40,000 kilowatt hours and cash disbursements to Itek employees who participated in the program.
Itek ran a successful Solarize Whatcom campaign in conjunction with Western Solar and Ecotech Solar, donating 47 modules and 2 inverters to the Bellingham Food Bank. Aslan Brewing released a Summer Solar Ale in partnership with Itek and Western Solar to provide solar energy to Lydia Place. Itek donated 40 modules and 2 inverters to the project, earning a 2016 Housing Heroes Award. Itek also donated the panels for a 6.6 kW system to Twende Solar for the Maya Jaguar School in Guatemala.
2016 saw the first group of Bellingham Technical College students enrolled in the Clean Energy Specialization program that Itek Energy helped to design.
Itek continues to build solar with solar. This year we expanded our current factory’s solar array by 254 modules, bringing the complete system size up to 77kw!
We also targeted our own resource management—working with Impact Washington and Sustainable Connections to reduce waste, integrate lean practices, and support ongoing staff training, as well as job development.
Within the Solar Community
Itek stayed involved in furthering solar legislation in Washington State—and beyond. During the 2016 legislative session, Itek Energy took a leading role to craft proposed solar module recycling legislation in Washington.
Itek stepped up our support of solar events and organizations. We were the Terrawatt Sponsor of the Washington Solar Summit 2016 and keynote sponsor at the Sustainable Design and Development Conference in Bellingham.
In April of 2016, Itek sent a team to Hannover-Messe, Germany, as part of the Washington State Clean Tech delegation—and in October participated in a trade mission led by Senator Brown in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Oman.
In 2017 Itek will continue to support the development of new solar legislation in Washington State. We will move into our new factory in Bellingham, keeping our current workforce employed and infusing the local economy with additional living-wage jobs as we expand production.
Our new facility will start with a 50 mega-watt production line, set to reach 120 mega-watts by 2018. Exciting new product developments will include incorporating solar cells manufactured in the US, releasing a 72-cell module, and listing 4- and 5-buss-bar modules.
All these changes will allow Itek to continue to be on the leading edge, producing high-power modules and making a place for ourselves on the national playing field. By building solar, we power our future.