Colorado Back Country Solar Powered Blues

Billy Shaddox in his solar powered music studio

Billy Shaddox in his solar powered music studio

On a recent brilliant Colorado blue sky day, I wended my way back into the hills above the Front Range town of Lyons  … seeking the house of Independent Power Systems customer, Billy Shaddox.

The land back here is gorgeous—rounded red rocks, juniper trees, pinyon and ponderosa pines, brilliant wildflowers.

I pull up into a steep driveway.  The garage door of the music studio is open. And there’s Billy strumming his guitar. The studio feels immediately inviting with its variety of musical instruments and painted walls, one a deep orange sunset hue, one a rich mountain sage.

Billy built this studio himself. Art adorns the walls – a poster of The Band – long an inspiration, Billy tells me …

… a brilliant Jimi Hendrix on velvet, a watercolor Billy did of a humpback whale. Sitting on a table is a beer fermentor.

Billy and his family – wife Yasmin Suarez Shaddox and two young sons, six and eight -have lived in this spot for the past two years.  (They moved out a couple years ago from San Diego, CA.)


Humpback whale - cover art - Shaddox album Record Keeper
Lyons, Colorado landscape
Shaddox solar powered home with SunPower panels

What initially motivated you to consider a PV system for your home … and what factors allowed you to move forward on going solar? 

Yasmin and I had long wanted to get solar but for a time believed it would be too expensive. We were amazed to learn we *could* afford it. 

It was a combination of factors that finally gave them the incentive to go solar. Billy lists:

the recent election, we wanted to green our energy use, get off coal and hydro … and make a statement by choosing to spend our money this way … we felt a sense of urgency – now is the time … and the fact that tax incentives will be going away. (The 30% tax credit dwindles after 2019.)

I mean, look outside! It makes perfect sense to tap into this glorious sunshine!

Though thrilled to be making music in a solar powered music studio, Billy said he really doesn’t give the solar system much thought.

It just sits there and does its thing.

He can go online and check the performance of the system if he wishes.

They chose SunPower for their system recognizing its superior performance as a solar panel. And in response to why they chose Independent Power Systems to be their installer:

We wanted to work with a local company. We liked the real people at IPS.  

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Billy grew up in a family of musicians. He still favors the guitar he inherited from his dad – a 1952 Martin 000-28. Its worn veneer attests to its musical adventures; its tone is still sweet and crisp.

To date Billy has recorded four albums, The Record Keeper being his latest. Earlier albums are I Melt, I Howl; Golden Fate, and Mellow Me.

I was treated to Billy playing Holy Whistle Blues:

… and then I ask him what gives him inspiration for his songwriting.

Life basically. Most of my songs are autobiographical. I write a lot about my relationships – with my wife, kids, friends.

The current political climate has certainly influenced what I write. I try not to feel fear. It’s time to stand up, not be lazy. It’s an important time to be a creator.

Billy and his kids built a tree house. I see it off to the side of the solar paneled roofline of the Shaddox home as I pull out of the driveway. The kids are up there … waving madly at me.

Happy solar living!

System overview:

  • System size:  4.9 kW
  • Panels:  [15]SunPower-327 high-efficiency panels
  • Estimated annual production:  8,145 kWh
  • Offsets 4.97 U.S. tons of CO2, equal to 153 trees planted


Now is the time! The real people at IPS will help you figure out how you can get solar for your home or business.

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