For the past seven years, we have followed the phenomenal growth and success story of local company, True South Solar. On a mission to place solar on every roof in Southern Oregon, the company has the wind in their sails and has changed the landscape of our community. In today’s interview, I speak with local owners Eric Hansen and Shawn Schreiner to learn more about the commercial services division of True South Solar.
Eric and Shawn, congratulations on another great year in Southern Oregon. The rooftop revolution has already changed thousands of lives in our community. Where do things go next?
The residential market has seen amazing growth nationally, and Southern Oregon is no exception. In 2016 we installed more than 140 solar projects (964 kilowatts) in our community! That’s almost a megawatt of installed capacity that will be producing clean energy for generations. In 2010 it was just the two of us, now we have more than 20 full-time employees. This year we’re planning to install over a megawatt of solar! We’re also setting some ambitious goals for increasing our region’s commercial installations.
Now is an exciting time for solar -innovations in solar technology is being coupled with decreasing prices. This has made solar a wise investment for residential and commercial clients. The solar industry is inspiring and revolutionary. We are really excited to be a part of this movement. We are actively transitioning our local energy supply away from fossil fuels. This is new frontier and we are changing the world. We all love what we do and continue to be inspired. Everyone is charged up and ready to produce more power.
The company culture that you have both created at True South Solar appears to be contagious. Please talk more about the values and ethics that have gone into creating your business.
Our mission is Solar on Every Rooftop and Best Jobs Ever! Our team is actively engaging in that mission every morning they show up to work. We work hard and play hard, and have fun doing it. We value excellent customer service and strive to create a local solar option that provides superior integrity, expertise, and professionalism. Our customers care about the quality of their solar investment and so do we.
We have a great team of people that believe in our work and that really resonate with our customers.
As you mentioned above, True South Solar is making huge strides to expand into the commercial market here in Southern Oregon. Tell us about this.
As more and more homeowners and businesses go solar, we build on our success. This momentum has allowed us to offer better craftsmanship, higher quality panels, and lower costs. These benefits are extended directly to our residential and commercial customers. Commercial projects allow us to directly impact our community’s largest energy users, which impacts all of us.
In the coming years, we anticipate seeing more businesses, schools, hospitals, and municipalities actively making the decision to go solar. We look forward to helping, and hope anyone in our community who is reading this to ask the business that they are employed by to look into going solar.
Why are your commercial clients going solar, are they simply building assets for their companies?
Building assets is just one benefit to companies who invest in solar. Incentives like tax credits, utility cash incentives, and accelerated depreciation are making solar a reality for our local businesses. Few capital improvements pay for themselves in such a small amount of time, generate income, serve the community, and provide great marketing material. Regardless if you announce your decision to go solar with your customers, solar makes sense for your bottom line.
I imagine your commercial clients have just as much pride in having their own solar systems as your residential clients do.
Totally! Having your own solar energy system is exciting for both commercial and residential customers. Many folks have goals of going solar for a while before they actually make the switch, so when it happens there is a real sense of pride. The real excitement is when your payback is achieved; you’ll be producing power for years to come and your energy expenses can become a small line item.
When a business is able to say, they are doing something good for the planet this also offers a great marketing opportunity by which to connect with customers.
Absolutely, as a consumer I want to support companies that I align with ideologically. People like to do business with companies that align with their values. We’re importing and using energy more than ever and those costs continue to rise. Business owners can demonstrate their commitment to local, clean energy solutions while reducing their future expenses. It’s a win-win and a pretty easy thing to do.
Eric, what would you identify as some of your core advantages in working with large and small-scale commercial clients?
Our quality of craftsmanship and expertise really sets True South Solar apart from other solar options. The experience of our team has grown a lot in the last seven years. Because of our community’s support, we don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. We provide support for the project from design to installation. We also utilize the highest quality equipment available with one of the best warranties in the industry. Our panel manufacturer provides a robust 25-year warranty. Yet the panels are designed to operate for 40+ years. Imagine if your business had a 7-year payback. That’s 33 years of free power!
Please talk more about the financing you are now offering for commercial projects.
We have had tremendous success with our residential financing solutions, making solar accessible to more folks in our community. We’re now offering commercial financing options that are accessible to both small and large-scale commercial projects.
In our discussions in the past I have understood that True South Solar handles many important aspects thus freeing up your customer. Is this still true?
Yes, we provide hands-on service for exploring options, design and installation, along with paperwork handling for permits, cash incentives, and tax credits.
Shawn, I’d love for you to share some recent commercial projects that provided interesting challenges that True South Solar helped to solve.
Last year, we were able to install on Mt. Ashland, the ski area’s Vehicle Shop roof houses a 27.8kW system with 85 SunPower solar panels. The grid-tied system offsets about 12% of its annual energy needs and was made possible with funding support from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky program customers, the Energy Trust of Oregon, and Mt. Ashland’s donors and sponsors.
This year, we installed a 39kW solar system on the Ashland Food Co-op, which has over 150 panels! They had an existing system which they generously donated to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. True South Solar donated the labor to make their 4.6kW, 27 panels system a reality.
We’re planning to do an additional solar installation for some of our existing customers so keep an eye out for our coming soon signs. Will your business be next?
Eric, describe life for your clients both residential and commercial after they have transitioned to solar.
Our clients who have transitioned to solar with us are always glad they did. Clients usually move forward because they want to take advantage of tax credits and financial incentives available or because they deeply care about their environment; either way, they get the benefits of both. There’s a real sense of pride in owning your own power supply, taking action in your community, and making a sound financial decision. We invite you to join our solar family.
Can you give us a quick overview of services you are providing for commercial clients?
We make going solar easy. We provide consultations, design, installation, tax credit and incentive filing, as well as data monitoring. Our free consultations are a great way for businesses to explore their options and start the conversation.
How do you provide maintenance support for larger commercial projects?
The benefit of solar is that there are no moving parts, so there is minimal maintenance required. Imagine a car with a 25-year warranty. If there is a need for any commercial maintenance our crew can easily come out and solve the issue within a week.
You guys have got installation down to a science.
Yes, and we keep getting better. Once we have a signed agreement it takes from 6-8 weeks to develop formal designs, apply for permits, sign up for tax credits and cash incentives. The installation is the easy part. Many of our installs only take 1-2 days.
Thanks so much for catching up with us today.
Thank you. We’ve had a lot of exciting involvement in the community and are grateful to all of our customers who have helped to spread the word.
True South Solar
330 E Hersey St. Suite #7