Tag Archives: solar

University of Michigan Energy CLUB install solar on Educate Youth club house

After learning about solar power from SolarYpsi, the Michigan Energy Club at the University of Michigan were motivated to accomplish their own solar installation. Reaching out to several non-profit organizations in Ypsilanti they connected with Gail Wolkoff, Founder and Executive Director of Educate Youth, an after-school program to increase graduation rates. “This project is a gift which will keep on giving for the next 30 years” said Gail Wolkoff. “Not only does the club house have solar panels, but the students who attend Educate Youth programs will learn about alternative energy and experience the benefits of solar power”.

After months of research, the Energy Club was able to design a system, collect quotes for the project, pull building, electrical, and historic district permits, and find the funding to make the project a reality. The solar contractor Distributed Power agreed to work with the students and together they successfully install the panels in January of 2020.

“This project is an excellent example of what can happen with you stop talking about what needs to be done, and just do it”, says Dave Strenski from SolarYpsi. The students took on the many challenges and worked with several outside parties to make this project happen. The project hopes to inspire others to install solar on their homes or businesses today. If you don’t have the funds or your roof is not suitable for solar power, then help some else put solar on their roof like the Energy Club accomplished.

Ypsilanti’s Educate Youth mission is to provide programming for Ypsilanti teens which will promote positive outcomes in all areas of life. We are committed to increasing the number of Ypsilanti students who receive a diploma, and for each graduate to have a post-high school plan, one student at a time.

The Michigan Energy Club is established to create a university-wide club that encourages and facilitates collaboration and education regarding technical aspects of energy developments. Through a variety of activities (projects, discussions, seminars, outreach events, competitions etc.), the Michigan Energy Club provides participating members with meaningful project-based learning and an atmosphere of edification and communal support for those individuals that share an interest in Energy and may furthermore hold long term goals of making an impact in this field.

You can find more information about this project on this SolarYpsi page.

Ypsilanti in American Cemetery and Cremation for the second time

Back in November of 2018 an article about Ypsilanti’s solar array in Highland Cemetery was published in American Cemetery and Cremation magazine. You can re-read that article here. Harvesting Perpetual Light http://www.solarypsi.org/CemCremArticle.pdf

Well it appears that Ypsilanti is not only a leader in solar power, but also a leader in solar power in cemeteries. American Cemetery and Cremation magazine wrote another article about solar in cemeteries and featured Highland Cemetery as a success story.

Let the Sun Shine In http://www.acm-digital.com/acm/january_2020/MobilePagedReplica.action?=undefined&pm=2&folio=16#pg19

SolarYpsi interviewed by ESAL

Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (esal.us) is a national organization dedicated to increasing local engagement by professionals with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). My co-worker at Cray, Arti Garg, is the founder of ESAL and when I told her about SolarYpsi they decided to interview me for their blog. You can read it here. Enjoy.

SolarYpsi: A Grass-Roots Approach to Renewable Energy https://www.esal.us/blog/solarypsi/

Damn Squirrels!!!!

So I’m looking at the solar panels on our roof and notice a bunch of twigs, leaves, brush clumped up under the panels. I’ve seen this before in 2013 when we first installed the panels. A squirrels had built a nest under the panels. Not sure how long the squirrels stick around, because it can get quite hot under those panels. Thinking it was a squirrel nest, I got the ladder out and climbed up on the roof to evict the little critters. After clearing the nest I saw this.

Those buggers did some recreational chewing on my wires!!! Back down the ladder to get some electrical tape and zip ties. As I taped up this chewed wire I looked at the next panel and saw some more. I taped that one and found some more.

And then I saw this just laying on the roof.

They had chewed both ends and the wire (and connector) was just laying up there. Well now I know that at least one panel is NOT working so I pull out my phone and fire up the Enphase monitoring app and check the system. Damn!!! four panels are not working. I quit for the day, check my inventory of M4 connectors and wire, and made a plan to fix everything . After 5 hours of up and down the ladder on a Sunday afternoon, removing panels and micro-inverters carrying them down to the ground, splicing on new connectors and wire, and carrying them back up to reinstall, everything is working again. Here’s the extent of squirrel damage and my repairs.

The squirrel seem to enjoy chewing the negative wire more than the positive. Maybe just a coincidence. Since they are chewing only one wire at a time and likely at night, I don’t think they got a shock. Maybe if they had a wet tail and chewed the positive on a sunny day. There was one place where they chewed the trunk line and might have gotten to taste a few electrons.

We’re back to full power and I tried to zip tie the wires closer to the rails/panels to make it harder to chew. The nest is gone and I’ve been checking everyday for any signs of them coming back. One tip that saved some money is that I cut the leads of broken/bad micro-inverters/optimizes when I replace them. That gives me a 3 foot wire with one connector. Add a new M4 to the other side and makes a nice jumper cable for panels with chewed off wires!

Ypsilanti a “solar Leader” in Environment America report

Imaging my surprise when I opened the latest Environment America Shining Cities 2019 report and searched for Michigan. I wanted to see which Michigan cities were doing well in solar power and who did I find? Ypsilanti Michigan!

I’ve been saying for quite a while that Ypsilanti has been doing a great job with installing solar power and ranked in the top 20 of solar cities nationwide on a watt per capita basis. We’re still not listed in the top ranking found on page 7, but wait, we got our own paragraph on page 27 in the “Smaller Cities and Towns Are Going Big on Solar Energy” section.

While our watts per capita continues to grow, currently at (1,177,555 watts / 21,076 people) 55.6 watts/capita, the competition continues to install solar at a faster rate. If we were on today’s list, we would have dropped to 21st place. Bummer….. Come on follow Ypsilantians, let’s installing more solar!

Enjoy the report and see how we rank against other major cities in the US. We’re currently just behind San Francisco. If we could get the landfill project to move forward we would double our solar capacity. There are many large roofs on South Mansfield that could also easily double the amount of installed power. There are thousands of residential homes that could go solar. We may not get to 17 MW of solar power and make it to the #1 slot, but we could easily be in the top 10. Install solar on your home or business today.

Ypsilanti mentioned in Environment America’s Shining City 2019 report.

Department of energy recognizes Ypsilanti as a low-income solar empowerment zone

About two years ago the City of Ypsilanti partnered with Chart House Energy and SolarYpsi to enter the Department of Energy Solar in Your Community Challenge. While not winning any money from the challenge, Ypsilanti was recognized as a low-income solar empowerment zone.


Starting with 170 teams nationwide, 5 teams were awarded money and 12 teams, including Ypsilanti, were acknowledged for their efforts.

Low-Income Empowerment: Helping Communities Most in Need

  • Solar Pioneers (Brooklyn, NY) – This team increased local education and improved customer acquisition in two low-income communities, creating a training curriculum and empowering youth with the knowledge to be community ambassadors for solar. They installed 307 kW of solar.
  • Solar Destination Ypsilanti (Ypsilanti, MI) – This team deployed over 600 kW of solar, with 44% of it benefiting LMI, and plans to install almost 3 MW by late 2019 in an area where median household income is well below the U.S. average. Local residents were trained to perform solar installation and worked on projects.

This another great example of Ypsilanti on the national map for their efforts to become a Solar Destination. The city and local community has been tremendous in their support for solar power and the number of installations continues to grow. With over 55 watts per capita putting us in the top 20 in the nation for solar power.

Here’s video about our project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-wbrxGES14

SolarYpsi would like to thank Chart House Energy for their support and helping to make this project successful. We also continues to seek funds to grow solar power even faster and bring it to the residents that need it the most. Let us know if you have any ideas.

Ypsilanti Wins Second Smart City Award

Last week, Ypsilanti’s Mayor Beth Bashert and SolarYpsi founder Dave Strenski traveled to Denver to collect a Smart 50 Award for a pair of solar projects in the City. The solar projects were unique in that we trained and hire local underemployed residents of Ypsilanti to preform the solar installations on their own low income housing building and on a city building. https://spring.smartcitiesconnect.org/Smart50Awards/

The name of our project was “Building Community with Solar Power”.

This was an amazing project and accomplished several goals all at the same time! First the non-profits that received the solar installation will start to save money by having a reduced electric bill. Then, after six years, the solar installation will be paid off and the organization will have free electricity. Second, low-income, underemployed residence learned how to install solar power along with OSHA fall protection and electrical safety training. Third, they were hire, at a living wage, to install the solar power on multiple buildings. Working alongside the solar contractor and members of the community built social bonds across demographics and made relationships that can help in the future. In fact, of the eight trained and hired workers, three got future work: one as a journeyman electrician, one as a roofer, and one with a local solar contractor. Lastly the community was very proud of this project and it created a lot of positive press for the City of Ypsilanti.

SolarYpsi presentation at the GLREA annual meeting

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) hald their annual meeting at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse last December 8th. The meeting was great and had over 150 people attending. This also included a pre-meeting workshop where SolarYpsi was able to talk about their history and explain some of the techniques for promoting solar and getting systems installed.

For those that were not able to attend, we have a recording of the slide presentation here. Enjoy.

History of Solar Presentation by SolarYpsi

I was updating our database of solar presentations they we have given over the years. In the past 12 years we have given a total of 255 solar presentations and reach over 5400 people in face-to-face meetings. Many as small as one person at the local coffee shop to over a hundred at a weekend festival, farmer market, or events like TEDx and Ignite. I calculate our average at about 20 people per event. Here’s the list (below) if you want to check the math. Drop me a note (Dave@Strenski.com) if you would like me to visit your organization and talk about how solar power can save you money.

Date Origanization Count
Jan # 2006 Co-op Open House 40
Feb # 2006 Depot Town Association 10
Mar # 2006 Washtenaw County Consortium on Waste Management 12
Mar 11 2006 Ypsilanti City Council & Historic Commission 10
May 10 2006 Metro Detroit Building Superintendent Assocation 20
Jul 17 2006 ReCycle Ann Aror 6
Jul 29 2006 ReCycle Ann Arbor 8
Aug 17 2006 Corner Brewery 80
Oct 7 2006 Solar Tour 10
Nov 29 2006 Optical Society of America 40
Dec 6 2006 Ann Arbor Computer Society 31
Dec 21 2006 Cray TechForum (remote) 12

2006 Total of 12 meetings reaching 279 people

Jan 17 2007 Pittsfield Union Grange (Dave and Adam) 15
Jan 24 2007 Ypsilanti District Library 25
Jan 26 2007 ReCycle Ann Arbor (Adam) 3
Mar 9 2007 Estabrook 4th grade class (Adam) 24
Mar 16 2007 Remodel Green Midwest Conference 33
Apr 18 2007 GREEN at EMU (Adam) 6
Apr 18 2007 Science Cafe 31
Apr 24 2007 Waste Not meeting 63
Jun 2 2007 U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens 10
Aug 14 2007 Ypsilanti City Council Meeting 44
Aug 18 2007 Ypsilanti Heritage Festival (Adam) 7
Sep 8 2007 The Treehouse Energy Efficency 10
Sep 18 2007 Ypsilanti Public Library 4
Sep 26 2007 Summers-Knoll School 5th grade class 11
Oct 6 2007 Solar Tour 20
Oct 14 2007 Healing Arts and Green Living Expo 3
Nov 7 2007 Normal Park Neighborhood Assocation 11

2007 Total of 17 meetings reaching 320 people

Mar 15 2008 Ypsilanti Food Cooperative 7
Mar 27 2008 UM Earth Day (Adam and I were rained out) 0
Apr 17 2008 WCC Earth Day: Celebrate our Habitat! 30
Apr 22 2008 Cenrtal Region Co-op Manager’s meeting 19
Jun 2 2008 Estabrook School, Ypsilanti (Adam) 144
Jul 12 2008 Ann Arbor Reuse Center 40
Aug 15 2008 Ypsilanti Heritage Festival 16
Aug 30 2008 Layed off Auto engineers 2
Sep 22 2008 Wittenberg University 37
Sep 23 2008 University Michigan 18
Sep 23 2008 Washtenaw Community College 15
Oct 4 2008 Solar Tour 16
Oct 29 2008 Crazy Wizdom one-on-one 1

2008 Total of 13 meetings reaching 345 people

Jan 30 2009 Crazy Wizdom Book Store 3
Mar 9 2009 Transition Michigan 5
Mar 24 2009 Ypsi School Dist,Assistant Superintendent staff 6
Apr 16 2009 WCC Earth Day. 17
Apr 24 2009 One-on-one solar talk with Hans 1
May 30 2009 Ypsi Food Coop (Hans) 3
Jun 3 2009 Estabrook School (Adam) 137
Jul 25 2009 Whole Foods Ann Arbor @ 1:00pm (Hans) 5
Aug 5 2009 Ann Arbor Computer Society (Dave+Nik) 19
Aug 6 2009 Ann Arbor District Library (Hans) 21
Aug 14 2009 Whole Foods Rochester Hills @ 12:00 (Hans) 8
Aug 21 2009 Ypsilanti Heritage Festival 7
Oct 10 2009 Solar Tour 14
Oct 17 2009 Ypsilanti District Library 11
Nov 19 2009 Elwell School “Green Expo” 12

2009 Total of 15 meetings reaching 269 people

Apr 22 2010 Canton Public Library 4
Aug 26 2010 Rebuild Ypsilanti – Ypsilanti District Library 50
Aug 31 2010 Dawn Farms one-on-one w/ Brian Ellison 1
Oct 2 2010 SolarTour – Ypsi Food Coop 12
Oct 2 2010 SolarTour – City Hall 11
Oct 7 2010 Concentrate in Ann Arbor 50
Oct 22 2010 EMU Student – Giles Tucker 1

2010 Total of 7 meetings reaching 129 people

Feb 7 2011 Ypsi Food Coop 10
Apr 20 2011 Ypsi Food Coop – staff 9
Apr 22 2011 Ypsi Food Coop – staff 11
Jun 2 2011 Ypsi DDA 8
Jun 14 2011 Lias and Beth 2
Jun 20 2011 Ypsilanti library (Google video) 25
Aug 18 2011 George Washington University (HPC workshop) 20
Sep 8 2011 Whole Foods in Rochester Hills (Hans Steiner) 10
Sep 9 2011 Dan Newell one-on-one 1
Sep 27 2011 Solar Tour training 6
Oct 1 2011 Solar Tour Adams (Bob, Hans) 6
Oct 1 2011 Solar Tour Coop/Bakery (Lisa, Keith, Eric, Jon) 26
Oct 1 2011 Solar Tour 403 Huron (Tad, Dan) 14
Oct 1 2011 Solar Tour City Hall (Dave, Steve) 16
Oct 1 2011 Solar Tour Corner Brewery (Garth) 8
Oct 11 2011 Stewar Beal one-on-one 1
Oct 24 2011 St. Matt & St. Joe Episcopal Church (Detroit) 20
Oct 28 2011 Skyline High School Engineering class 25
Nov 6 2011 Ignite6 Ann Arbor 270
Nov 11 2011 Matt Grocoff 2
Nov 11 2011 Google Ann Arbor – TGIF talk 50
Nov 14 2011 YpsiFoodCoop – UnvMich students 3
Nov 29 2011 Eastern Mich Unv student one-on-one at Ugly Mug 1
Nov 30 2011 Eastern Mich Unv CSIE Seminar Series 50

2011 Total of 24 meetings reaching 594 people

Jan 14 2012 Westminster Presbyterian Church – Men’s Breakfast 20
Jan 14 2012 Ypsilanti Distric Library – Michigan Ave 25
Feb 15 2012 Team Detroit 7
Mar 27 2012 Eastern Michigan University 11
Apr 15 2012 Ypsilanti First United Methodist Church 23
Apr 20 2012 Consumer Family Advocate Council (Detroit) 21
May 12 2012 Growing Hope’s Ypsi Garden Fair 12
Jun 23 2012 Ann Arbor Area Real Estate Investor Club 12
Aug 17,18,19 Ypsilanti Heritage Festival (Dave, Steve, Paul) 800
Oct 11 2012 Ypsilanti Jaycee walking tour 8
Oct 17 2012 Ypsilanti Jaycee meeting 23
Oct 23 2012 WiHi International High School A2 physics class 26
Oct 24 2012 WiHi International High School B1 physics class 25
Oct 24 2012 WiHi International High School B2 physics class 26
Nov 8 2012 VNEXT Ann Arbor (Tad Wysor) 6
Nov 9 2012 One-on-one with EMU grad student Gilles Renard 1
Dec 19 2012 EMU construction professors 4

2012 Total of 17 meetings reaching 1050 people

Feb 14 2013 EMU Construction class 25
Feb 24 2013 Ann Arbor Friends Meeting (Quakers) 20
Mar 15 2013 TEDxEMU 200
Mar 19 2013 Michigan Ladder one-on-one 1
Mar 22 2013 Stewart Beal one-on-one 1
Mar 26 2013 Go Solar Community Forum 52
Mar 4 2013 EMU GIS class 12
May 8 2013 EMU Summer Science Research Initiative 50
Jun 26 2013 Girl Scout Camp 121
Aug 16,17,18 Ypsilanti Heritage Festival (Dave, Steve, Amy) 400
Nov 20 2013 Ypsilanti Fire Department (shift 1) 4
Nov 20 2013 Ypsilanti Fire Department (shift 2) 4
Nov 20 2013 Ypsilanti Fire Department (shift 3) 4

2013 Total of 13 meetings reaching 894 people

Mar 20 2014 EMU GREEN meeting 20
Apr 13 2014 Ypsilanti Fire Chief 1
Apr 13 2014 Ypsilanti Historic District Meeting 20
Jun 27 2014 X-Ray and Specialty Instruments 3
Jul 16 2014 Northend Christian/Greater Woodward CDC 12
Aug 15,16,17 Ypsilanti Heritage Festival (Dave, Paul, Amy) 400
Sep 2 2014 Ed Berch Ypsi Key Bank 1
Sep 9 2014 Mike Kabat Haab’s Restaurant 1
Oct 4 2014 Solar Tour 2

2014 Total of 9 meetings reaching 460 people

Jan 21 2015 Solar talk at Bona Seri w/ AJ Leo 45
Feb 11 2015 Solar talk at ARROW ham radio club 20
Mar 5 2015 Solar talk at the Detroit Google Dev Group 30
Mar 17 2015 Solar Ribbon Cutting at Corner Health Center 25
Mar 30 2015 Solar Ribbon Cutting at Parkridge Community Center 15
May 15 2015 Solar Ribbon Cutting at WiHi school 32
Jun 2 2015 Solar Ribbon Cutting at Ypsi District Library 8
Jun 11 2015 YCS Sustainability Summit 12
Jun 18 2015 One-on-one with the Richies 2
Jun 23 2015 Solar Ribbon Cutting at Senior Center 17
Jun 27 2015 GLREA Energy Fair 50
Jul 30 2015 one-on-one with Glenn Nelson 1
Aug 15 2015 one-on-one with Herb White 1
Sep 21 2015 one-on-one with John Donnelly and wife 2
Oct 3 2015 National Solar Tour 20
Nov 11 2015 one-on-one with EMU student Kenneth Snavely 1
Dec 04 2015 one-on-one with EMU student Jose Garcia 1

2015 Total of 17 meetings reaching 282 people

Feb 1 2016 Brownstown Kiwasis 15
Feb 27 2016 one-on-one with Gary Urick, wants to install 1
Mar 1 2016 Washtenaw Internation High School, Gov Class 1 30
Mar 1 2016 Washtenaw Internation High School, Gov Class 2 25
Mar 2 2016 Washtenaw Internation High School, Gov Class 3 25
Apr 5 2016 one-on-one with Grant Cashman 1
Apr 12 2016 Ann Arbor ELS class 10
Apr 12 2016 Ann Arbor ELS class 5
Apr 24 2016 Ypsi Library Michigan Ave 10
May 31 2016 MIAT morning class 60
May 31 2016 MIAT evening class 25
Jun 24 2016 Girl Scout executives 2
Jun 24 2016 Washtenaw Internation HS, Summer Gov Class 40
Sep 22 2016 Unv of Michigan students at Cultivate 2
Sep 23 2016 Arial Moore one-on-one at Cultivate 1
Oct 1 2016 National Solar Tour at the Freighthouse 16
Oct 8 2016 Cultivate Science Saturdays 6
Oct 22 2016 one-on-one with Jennifer Slack and Ken Sevnson 2
Oct 27 2016 Financing solar Meetup at Spark East 16
Nov 22 2016 one-on-one with EMU student Justin Westphal 1

2016 Total of 20 meetings reaching 293 people

Jan 29 2017 one-on-one with Everett Mayes 1
Feb 8 2017 Washtenaw County solar presentstion 2
Feb 12 2017 one-on-one with Aaron Brodkey (UnvMich student) 1
Feb 13 2017 one-on-one with Bill Emory 1
Feb 19 2017 one-on-one with Anne Stevenson 1
Feb 23 2017 Mitchell & Mouat Architects (Thompson Block) 4
Mar 14 2017 City of Ypsilanti Building Department, HDC 6
Mar 18 2017 Brandon Knight – Strawberry Solar 1
Mar 6 2017 Alyssa Jacobsen and Julie Miller EMU students 2
May 28 2017 Ariel and Eric’s house 10
Jul 9 2017 SouthEast Michigan Computer Organization 25
Jul 19 2017 Ramzi Araj and Kais Kawar from Fives 2
Aug 16 2017 One-on-one with Kumar Sivan 1
Oct 2 2017 Ypsi Sustainability Commission meeting 25
Oct 7 2017 National Solar Tour 25
Oct 11 2017 Detroit Google Developers Group 20
Oct 12 2017 one-on-one Kirk David from Crazy Horse 1
Nov 2 2017 Ann Arbor Sustainibilty Meetup (SPARK East) 8
Nov 7 2017 one-on-one with Stephanie Parker, EMU student 1
Nov 14 2017 City Hall 50 big roofs 10
Nov 21 2017 one-on-one with Dave Novak at Auto Museum 1
Dec 9 2017 Cultivate Coffee & Tap House 11

2017 Total of 22 meetings reaching 159 people

Jan 11 2018 Presented to Habitat for Humanity 2
Jan 11 2018 Presentation at Belleville Library 26
Jan 12 2018 Presentation at Ypsilanti Library 2
Feb 10 2018 Ypsilanti Food Cooperative 10
Mar 12 2018 Brianna Kelly Concentrate Media one-on-one 1
Mar 17 2018 Habitat for Humanity ReStore – live streamed 12
Mar 29 2018 one-on-one with EMU student Larry Romero 1
Apr 9 2018 Rotary Club at EMU 12
Apr 22 2018 Cultivate Earth Day event 20
Apr 25 2018 Solar talk at TinkerTech 5
May 8 2018 one-on-one with Rainbow Rehabilitation 2
May 16 2018 Solar talk at Ypsilanti Performance Space 15
Jun 2 2018 Solar talk at Ypsilanti Distric Library (Spanish) 9
Jun 22 2018 Solar talk to WiHi government class (Mr.Fox) 27
Jun 22 2018 Solar talk to WiHi government class (Mr.??) 28
Jun 23 2018 one-on-one with Jonathan Ferrer 1
Jun 30 2018 one-on-one with Kathleen Trues 1
Jul 17 2018 Presented at Landline Creative Labs 7
Jul 25 2018 Solar walking tour for Lansing 4-H club 25
Aug 14 2018 Solar talk at Growing Hope 2
Aug 27 2018 one-on-one with Mary and Finn 2
Aug 27 2018 one-on-one with Robert Harlow 2
Sep 11 2018 one-on-one with Nathan Houghteling MI Eng Club 1
Sep 22 2018 Farmer’s Market Equinox Party 100
Oct 7 2018 Natinoal Solar tour 15
Oct 9 2018 University of Michigan Energy Club 11
Oct 30 2018 one-on-one with Hannah Himmelbauer 1
Nov 6 2018 HighScope Staff 9
Nov 7 2018 one-on-one with Ben Harrington Spark East 1

2018 Total of 29 meetings reaching 350 people

Total = 5424 people in 215 meetings