How does a consumer shop around for the best equipment?

Why isn’t there a who’s who when it comes to solar, wind, hydro power equipment that’s based on superior service, technology, cost, guarantees etc.? And furthermore, who are the movers and shakers in these industries and why are they considered the very best? What are their on-going and future projects? What companies have the best teams? – Carroll S, Seattle, WA

Carroll. You have some big questions that are important to consumers. First, the industries and technology providers are very young. Solar water heating is the oldest of the ‘modern’ renewables and their products are certified by the non-profit Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) for solar water heating systems for buildings and solar pool heating systems. North American Windpower has a nice Windpower Buyer’s Guide 2005 but they have no ratings, as do the membership lists of the combined heat and power, microhydropower and ocean energy, solar and wind trade associations — see links below. But companies that join the national and state/regional trade groups generally have to abide by certain ethics requirements and have resources to be more responsible businesses. The affiliated State industry associations for SEIA and AWEA are also the best places to find out information on companies, as are the American Solar Energy Society chapters (www.ases.org) for most of the renewables. Dedicated web sites such as this one – Renewable Energy Access – keep you informed of company happenings as does some of the magazines such as ASES’s Solar Today. But as advised in my earlier columns, there is nothing better than obtaining references from the company and calling several of them – ask for pictures and phone numbers – because it really comes down to dedication and performance – project by project, and the only way is to “see for yourself”. – Scott Sklar
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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