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April 18, 2013
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Two alternative energy businesses merge in Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Energywise Consultants and Atlasta Solar Center joined forces last summer and are hosting a grand opening celebration Saturday, April 20, at its new location, 1111 S. Seventh St. The open house from noon to 6 p.m. will feature food, music, giveaways, a bump-n-jump for kids - and most importantly - a solar showroom demonstration of how the sun heats and powers the business.Energywise owner Darin Carei and Atlasta employees Lou Villaire and Andy Whipple bought the solar company from retiring founder Virgil Boggess in July, adding Energywise services to the solar power business.Energywise offers energy audits for both residential and commercial customers, plus retrofits for increasing energy efficiency.Additionally, "we work with a multitude of builders who want to build to Energy Star standards," Carei said. "It sets builders apart. (And) we offer quantifiable proof" a builder has reached the energy efficiency standard.The new owners moved Atlasta Solar Center from its North Avenue location to the south downtown area, near the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens Jan. 1.In its showroom visitors can see how three separate solar systems work. One is an off-grid, battery back-up system where stored power collected from the sun can be accessed in the event of a power outage. The system was built mostly to be demonstrative since the business is not dependent on Excel Energy for its electricity. The business creates its own electricity via a photovoltaic system where solar panels collect the sun's energy to produce electricity. Any excess electricity produced in this grid-tie system goes back into the grid, and can be used by Atlasta at a later date, if needed.The third system is thermal, where solar collectors convert the sun's energy to heat water to heat the building."Our building is heated and powered from the sun," Carei said.The shop also offers a free electric charging station where people can park their (electric-powered) cars, plug in and come back three or four hours later to a fully-charged vehicle."We want the community to come visit the showroom" as well as the other nearby amenities like the botanical gardens and the riverfront trail, Villaire said.

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The Post Independent Updated Apr 18, 2013 12:41PM Published Apr 18, 2013 12:36PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.