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Austin, Techie
Posted by David Levine on Jan 6, 2015
Location: Austin, Texas. Skies: clear. Mood: elevated.

Ben Combee, a smart TV software engineer and life-long environmentalist has had silicon on his mind for decades. Now he has it on his roof. There is a natural attraction between high-tech engineers and solar photovoltaics (PV), more commonly known as solar energy systems. Solar Panels, the heart and soul of every PV system, are typically manufactured from the same materials as the silicon chips that are the brains of computers, tablets, cable TV boxes, and smart phones. PV is not just a really cool technology. In many parts of the country, like Austin, TX, it's a very smart investment. Techies like Ben gave up visits to travel agencies, libraries and banks long ago before the rest of us. Classic early adopters, they find the online tools that save time and money, so they can stay focused on the matters at hand. When Ben found Geostellar at SXSW, it was 'love at first site.' A Web site, that is, that didn't only make going solar easy, it quantified the economic, energy and environmental benefits. Ben's 3.5kKW solar system will produce about 102 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy over the next 25 years. That's equal to 680,518 hours of TV watching, 434,373 hours of listening to music on his stereo (in case you didn't know Austin is known for great music), and 44,381 hours of air conditioning for his home (Austin gets HOT! And HUMID!) Most importantly to Ben, he'll be reducing his carbon footprint. Texas has a particularly dirty energy mix. They still burn oil for electricity in some parts of the state! Geostellar computes the amount of carbon pollution that will be prevented with solar panels on each rooftop, based on the specific mix of feedstocks (coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind and solar) on the local utility grid. In Ben's case, those 3.5kW will reduce his carbon footprint by 149,442 lbs. Ben already knew in his heart that he wanted to go solar before he ever found Geostellar. All we did was connect with his prodigious brain.

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