By Heidi Simmons
It’s Modernism Week and what could be more modern than using sustainable energy? Solar panels are becoming commonplace on the rooftops of homes, businesses and parking covers across our sunny Coachella Valley. One local solar company is putting sustainability and energy efficiency into the modernism mix.
“Modernism was revolutionary. It significantly changed things architecturally,” said Nate Otto, CEO of Hot Purple Energy. “We believe solar technology is revolutionary and is significantly going to change things as well.”
Solar panels are being installed today more than ever and the aesthetic consideration has become a priority. Last year, just for 2013, Hot Purple Energy installed solar systems with more than 1.5 megawatts of panel producing energy in the CV.
“Now you can produce the power right where you need it, which really hasn’t been done before,” said Hot Purple Energy, Vice President, David Herrlinger. “Being sustainable is not about sacrifice.” Otto and Herrlinger are passionate about producing positive energy.
Established in 2009, when the economy was in a rapid decline, Otto and Herrlinger founded Hot Purple Energy to make a difference. Coming from real estate and construction backgrounds, they wanted to create a business that would benefit everyone. “Our idea was to retool in a way that was different and better,” said Herrlinger.
The company name, Hot Purple Energy, was selected to generate an idea of fun. Some think it’s about the color of photovoltaic cells or the purple lines used in drafting, that reference alternative energy source — which is fine with Otto and Herrlinger. “It’s like a song. The name is open for interpretation,” said Herrlinger. But mainly they want people to think of HPE as something that produces fun.
And for Modernism Week that is exactly what they plan to do. HPE will host their third annual Mid-Century Bike Tour. This year HPE will be conducting two rides – one in the north end of Palm Springs and one in the south. “We ride through the modernism neighborhoods with architectural significant homes where we’ve installed solar systems,” said Otto. “You can’t always see the solar panels, but it’s a great ride in nice neighborhoods.”
This Saturday, February 15, planners for the CV Link (a pathway for pedestrians, bicyclists and low speed electric vehicles that when completed will span from Desert Hot Springs to Coachella), will give a short presentation about the 52-mile route before the neighborhood ride. North Palm Springs Bike Tours begin at 10:00 at the HPE Solar Stage at the Prefab Showcase. Bring your own bike. Bicycles will be available to rent, but the event is free.
The HPE South Palm Springs ride will be on the following Saturday, February 23. It begins at the Saguara Hotel with a presentation by the Palm Springs Office of Sustainability. The free event begins at 10:00.
Most impressive, Hot Purple Energy is supplying clean electricity for The Prefab Showcase and Modern Living Expo. This expo is one of the Modernism Week’s most attended and popular events showcasing prefabricated buildings and architecture open for touring.
The village will feature the latest in smart home technology, green products, solar energy, modern furnishings and finishes. HPE is also contributing the live music and deejays. The Expo Village is located at 384 N. Indian Canyon Drive and is open from 10:00 to 5:00 from February 15 through 17 and again from February 21 to 23.
“If we can continue to demonstrate how we can have more, or as much, fun as any body else who is burning fossil fuel, then we’ve done our job,” said Otto. “We do these events so people can see that we don’t have to sacrifice anything to have a good time. There are plenty of ways to put our personal energy and the solar energy into these events in real use time for people to enjoy.” HPE will have an old-school pinball arcade and a free green screen photo booth for commemorative pictures. The Cathedral City High School digital photo class will be taking the photos. HPE will also provide phone-charging stations.
Hot Purple Energy has a fleet of mobile solar generators they take to valley events. Truck or trail, the solar panels combine to create a scalable platform that allows them to increase the power as needed. The mobile solar panels are capable of generating eight kilowatts of power. “The benefits of solar energy generation at an open event like the Expo Village are numerous. But especially great is there’s no noise cluttering the atmosphere,” Herrlinger said. “It’s quiet. It’s clean. It’s nice.” All the HPE vehicles run on alternative fuel.
With more than 20 solar energy companies in the CV, HPE has distinguished themselves from the others in their desire to supply a comprehensive understanding with a multi-dimensional approach to supplying sustainable energy. “We are Hot Purple Energy instead of Hot Purple Solar for a very good reason,” said Otto. “We show people how they can lower their energy bills without giving up their lifestyle with or without solar. Of course, we want to see every home with solar production. But we are in this to help our neighbors lower their consumption from traditional source. Our goal is to reduce the use of fossil fuel any way we can.”
With sunshine year round in the CV, solar is certainly a bright idea to reduce our dependence of costly and damaging energy sources. “I don’t see anything taking solar energy’s place in the next decade,” said Otto. “It shows that solar is a great option. It is the cleanest renewable energy source with the lowest carbon footprint of production through lifecycle. And it’s noise free. The sun needs no pipeline.”