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Free Hot Water’s Making News with Largest CSI Solar Thermal Install to Date

A diagram of The Trade Winds Installation

Just wanted to share with our solar community about the news that Free Hot Water is about to start the largest solar water heating project under California’s new solar thermal rebate program. The Tradewinds, a lage condominium complex nestled in the heart of San Jose’s Blossom Valley, is a community of 320 residential units, approximately 80% of which are owner occupied.

How large is large? Well, the compound uses an average of 10,000 gallons of hot water per day for showers, laundry, dishwashers, and other residential hot water necessities. Heating water with solar energy rather than with natural gas will reduce the building’s water heating bills by as much as 60%.

Our engineering department at Free Hot Water designed a system that willl use a total of 183 commercial grade FHW7000 series solar hot water collectors that will be mounted on five tar and gravel roofs of the two story buildings in the Tradewinds complex. Additionally, our COO, Paul Burrowes,  calculated that The Tradewinds will produce over 5 million BTU’s daily and save over 250,000 pounds of CO2 on an annual basis.

The Tradewinds will benefit from long-term cost and environmental savings–and also  from the new California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program. The initial calculations for The Tradewinds show a CSI-T rebate value of approximately $186,240.  That’s a lot off the top, but as a non-profit home owners association (HOA), the project would have saved even more from the 30% federal investment tax credit and other tax incentives that can be applied to for-profit building owners.

Free Hot Water couldn’t have done the project without the help of TBI Energy, the project manager, and Comfort Energy, the system installer and contractor of record. Breene Kerr, TBI Energy Project Director stated in our joint press release, “TBI Energy is excited to be a part of the largest solar thermal system yet installed under the CSI thermal program. This is a complex installation with three independent solar thermal systems serving hundreds of residents in five different buildings.  TBI Energy’s extensive construction management experience along with Free Hot Water’s proven products and technology gives us the confidence that this project will be successful.  California needs more installations like this one.  We look forward to  providing a highly visible example of why solar thermal systems should become as common in this country as the are throughout the rest of the world.”

Comfort Energy’s president, Harry Abbot adds in the release, “It’s successful incentive programs California’s CSI program that make these large projects possible and help create more clean energy jobs for California’s present and future.”

We’re about to start installation and will post some blogs and photos of our progress. If you’re one of our partner installers in California, please let us know how we can help you benefit from the new CSI program.

P.S. Here’s the link to a news item in Builder Magzine about the project.

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