It's Hard to be a Green Entrepreneur

When we first looked at the Solar Style line of portable solar chargers, we were a bit perplexed. The prices were remarkable, but you could not buy the product yet. The specifications were limited, and it was hard to figure out how it might work.

Treehugger knows how hard it is to start a business, and how sometimes enthusiastic inventors go public a bit too soon. We thought that we would look a little more closely. Fortunately, ths Solar Charger site includes a link for investors. Solar Style is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Communications Systems Inc.(UCSY), a holding company based in Miami, and whose Chairman and CEO, Michael Zwebner lives in Israel, Miami and London.

One of the subsidaries, Millenium Electric, makes some very interesting and innovative photovoltaic products starting with its MSS combination Solar water heater and photovoltaic collector.

Their solar house kit is wonderful- a package including solar panels, battery, controllers and LED lights- Instant energy for the third world.

We even found the science behind the solar charger:"Millennium Electric Ltd. has developed a unique solar charging device for commercially available PDAs, mobile phones and laptops. The charging device consists of a 9-30 solar cell generator connected in string using black on black technology with an area of 5x12 cm and 1.5 watt related power with a low loss charge controller for the Li-Ion battery in the PDAs and mobile phones, and a 33x33 cm 10w power device for the laptops." These are interesting products worthy of note and further notice on treehugger.

Another subsidiary is the Air Water Corporation, which has developed an extraction system for removing water from the air. It was developed for both home and, in larger installations, for third world use. Mr. Zwebner, who was sending units to Sri Lanka before the tsunami, has even set up a charity to help survivors.

Unfortunately, when a company like UCSY trades over the counter for less than a dollar, day traders and others use internet bulletin boards to post opinions and comments that my not be favorable. Most companies ignore them, thinking that the less attention drawn to the posting, the better. Mr Zwebner consistently and actively pursues those who write these postings, and in 1998, when he was head of Legacy Software, sued investors for posting defamatory comments on a discussion board, according to Wired Magazine.

In another lawsuit, Chairman Zwebner, now at Talk Visual Corp. won a $ 1 million settlement against an Internet Poster. Read Press Release here.

And now, to top it all off, In January Mr. Zwebner was forced to file RICO charges (Racketeering Influenced Criminal Organization, but charmingly named RICO after Edward G. Robinson's "Is this the last of RICO?) about statements made in a notorious website. Read UCSY press release here. and in February against Lycos and Raging Bull.

What does this say about Solar Style? It is inexpensive and it looks like there is some real technology behind it. We like to promote such things and are pretty impressed by some others we have seen from Millenium Electric.

However, many of us think that the Internet is a fabulous source of information and communication, and become concerned about the legal chill such lawsuits cause. We are all swimming in the same pool, and we who toil to find and review products like those from Solar Style get nervous about things like this. [by LA]

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