Solar States Solar Array To Power Crane Building

January 1, 2011

Solar States announces plans to power Fishtown’s Crane Arts Building with Philadelphia’s largest solar array

$500,000 in private investment and match grants from city and state partners bring this 81kW system to the Crane

Philadelphia—Solar Power generation firm Solar States announced today a plan to power Fishtown’s Crane Arts Building using center city Philadelphia’s largest rooftop photovoltaic solar array. The 81kW system will make Fishtown’s premier arts and business haven one step closer to energy independence, using all energy produced by the array on-site. According to the EPA, On-Site energy usage and generation are the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly ways to power your home or business.

Designed and installed by consultants Rene Ermilio and Greg Katz of Helio Power Systems; and Pat McDonald and Howard Steinberg of G.R.A.S.S., Solar States plans to add 450 solar panels to the Crane’s 20,000 sq. ft. roof. The project would not be possible without the amazing leadership team at the Crane Arts Building; David Gleeson, Richard Hricko, and Nick Kripal. This addition will save the Crane 25 percent over PECO’s ever-increasing energy rates. Solar States will own the array, selling the power back to the Crane at a reduced rate and funneling any additional power into the local power grid. With power purchase agreements in hand, $500,000 in private investment and match grants from state and federal partners, Solar States began construction on the array on December 20, 2010.

“Our mission is point-of-use solar, which is distinctly different from solar arrays outside of the city, in fields somewhere. It is possibly the most overlooked piece of our energy portfolio because there is so much space in cities,” says Solar States Founder Micah Gold-Markel. “When you produce your energy on-site, you are doing it the most efficient way possible because you are not losing any energy through long-haul transmission and then transforming that energy for use”. The Crane provided an excellent location because of the size of its roof and the commitment of its ownership to sustainability. The ownership structure here has been an excellent partner to us all through this process.”

Formed in 2008 by web designer and educational reformer Micah Gold-Markel, Solar States began by partnering with Center City public school the Science Leadership Academy to form the city’s first high-school-level course on solar energy. Partnering with SLA’s Matthew VanKouwenberg—West Philadelphia High School’s former Math Department chair and a Yale teaching fellow—Solar States assisted with the creation of a curriculum helping students understand not only the science behind solar energy, but how to calculate energy efficiency and, more importantly, how to calculate return-on-investment.

After helping to create this successful course and partnering as consultants on many solar and educational projects, Solar States is ready to build an array of its own. Not only is Solar States powering a building, it is powering a movement, adding the infrastructure and planting the seeds for a future workforce to take the reins. But for this dream to continue, Solar States looks toward the future. Solar is no longer a dream in Pennsylvania. According to the National Solar Census, released in October, our state trails only California in solar energy employment nationwide. For those trends to continue, Gold-Markel and Solar States believe we have to work together to keep solar in the public dialogue.

“We are very excited to be bringing clean, renewable power to the Crane,” says Gold-Markel. “This would be impossible without collaboration from the private sector, private individuals who are lending money, state and federal grants and a robust SREC market. A combination of things has to happen to make solar possible on a large scale. For the past few years, we have had those things in place and you saw a booming solar economy here in the state. That is why we can’t let things like the Renewable Portfolio Standard fall by the wayside and projects like ours will keep solar in the conversation here in Philadelphia.”

About Solar States: In 2008, Aveight founder Micah Gold-Markel created Solar States, a new solar business model focused on breaking down the restrictive costs of solar energy, making photovoltaic power as simple as any bill from the electric company. Gold-Markel and his partners envisioned a full-service industry that would educate a future workforce, build solar farms on urban lands and help businesses bring solar to their headquarters for less than traditional electricity. Visit our website at or visit our blog at

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