True South Solar Rooftop Revolution in Southern Oregon

Now entering its thirteenth year of business here in Rogue Valley, True South Solar is a leader in residential and commercial solar installation in our community. Now having completed more than 1,200 installations, their local experience and knowledge is second to none. In today’s interview, I spoke with True South Solar founder and local owner Eric Hansen about his multi-generational vision of a rooftop revolution here in Southern Oregon.

Hi Eric, thanks so much for speaking with me today and congratulations on your ongoing success with True South Solar here in Southern Oregon.

Thanks! It’s been a great year already, especially in comparison to the last few. This year is on track to be our best yet!

Eric, I know none of this would not be possible without your amazing team.

So true, so true. People love working with us because every member of our team has a passion for solar – it’s why we do what we do.

And when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, right? We have an employee policy that if Mt. Ashland reports 6” or more of new snow, our team members are not expected to come to work that day. We had more of those days this winter than any time in our 13-year history and we still had an amazing number of installations in the first quarter! We’re also excited to say that the team continues to grow to meet the growing demand for our solar energy expertise in Southern Oregon.

Eric, what are some of the goals and visions for your company right now?

A lot of people don’t realize that we live in an area with an energy shortage – we import it from around the Pacific Northwest. That leaves us vulnerable, especially given the climactic changes we’ve experienced locally. We want to help build enough energy-generating capacity in our area so that this region becomes energy self-sufficient. What does that mean? It means finding new partners to work with us to add solar on rooftops and build storage solutions across Southern Oregon, especially in our hometown, Ashland. We are seeking more homeowners, small business owners, nonprofit organizations, and cities to help us reach this goal of self-sufficiency.

I understand you are having a huge event on June 21st. Will you please tell us all about it?

Yes, our Summer Solstice Shindig! We welcome our community to join us on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 21st at our office at 125 Clear Creek Drive in Ashland. We’ll be celebrating the longest day of the year, the beginning of summer, our peak energy-producing season, and raising a glass to our favorite star, the sun! We’ll have a handful of food trucks along with live music from 3pm to 7pm.

Eric, I know the Tesla Powerwall is a big deal. What is it? How does it work and why should we consider buying one for our home?

Yes, we are a Certified Tesla Powerwall installer – the only one in the Valley, in fact. Back when I got started in solar, we would wire together giant battery banks for clients interested in energy storage. Those days are over now that we have energy innovators like the engineers at Tesla, producing reliable, modular, smart battery backup systems for homes and businesses. Tesla Powerwall intelligently manages a home’s power consumption and production, helping homeowners keep the power generated onsite by their solar panels to power their homes and businesses at night and when the grid goes down. This is a revolutionary product, not unlike Tesla automobiles. Tesla Powerwall is going to be part of the solution to the daily cycle of solar energy production during the day and the demand for power when the sun is not shining.

In specific, what do homeowners love about the Tesla Powerwall?

The Tesla Powerwall gives people peace of mind. If you have a medical device that provides life-sustaining support or a well pump that relies on energy to run, you will have issues when the grid goes down. With a Tesla Powerwall, you can have a constant supply of energy, no matter what is happening on the grid. The grid has become less and less reliable over time as our infrastructure ages and power companies have increasingly opted to shut off power during wind events in fire season. It goes back to what I was saying earlier – we live in an area that relies on other places for energy. If we can create our own power and store it locally, we become less reliant on power companies.

With more than 13 years in the industry, what are the biggest changes you have seen occur and where do you see that we are going?

Over our company’s history, we have seen a lot of innovation in our industry. Solar panels produced today are significantly better than they were a decade ago. Micro-inverter technology stretches out each panel’s capacity to produce energy for your home or business. But the biggest shift is in storage. Products on the market today are able to intelligently manage a seamless transition back and forth between energy from the grid and energy stored on-site to power homes and businesses. Storage as a realistic solution is the real game-changer and we’re excited to be able to offer products like the Tesla Powerwall to our community.

Eric, in what ways can you see that AI may assist the rooftop revolution?

I would say that AI will play more of a role inside the home, rather than up on the roof.

As in the case of the Tesla Powerwall, for instance, the various devices in your home or business will need to be managed so they do not overload a system. So, in the case of a home, when power goes down, we have to manually program the way that devices compete for the power coming in from the solar panels vs. the power being either pulled from or being sent to the Powerwall (or, coming soon, your electric vehicle). This is somewhat complicated and we rely on homeowners to educate themselves about when they might need to shut off a device like the air conditioning when power becomes limited. With a smart home or business, we will be able to rely on the system itself to manage these priorities and make decisions based on real-time conditions. Tesla Powerwall does a good job of this to a certain extent currently, but we have a long way to go to reach the goal of a self-powered smart home and AI will have a huge role to play in making that dream a reality.

“Made In The USA.” Please speak to this and what this means for both the country and consumer.

When you look at the mix of energy sources for the U.S. and Oregon specifically, we have a lot of power being made by importing it in the form of oil, natural gas, and other portable sources of energy. When you can harness the power of the sun right there at your home or business, you are so much less reliant on the relationships we have with world partners. You can make your energy 100% American-made. With the on-shoring of solar panel production to the U.S. happening right now, we’re building the capacity to do it all within the boundaries of our country.

Every evening around 6pm, when everyone comes home from work, there is a huge energy demand spike. Please talk more about the advantages and independence of being off the grid.

Yes, in our industry, it’s called the “Duck Curve” problem (it’s named after the shape of the graph used to demonstrate this growing concern). As you said, in the early evening when the sun is going down, people are returning home from work and using energy in the home at the very moment that energy production from solar is winding down to zero. To overcome this issue, we need to store a lot of energy during the day so we can use it throughout the evening until the sun comes out in the morning.

Eric, I ask this question every year, but what differentiates True South Solar from others?

It’s our team. Everything we do, from education to sales through permitting and installation, our team is just a little bit better than our competitors. Add all of that up and our work is significantly better than our competitors. We help make solar as affordable as possible, but that does not mean locking our clients into long-term loans with low monthly payments – we actually take extra steps to ensure our clients are getting the best deal out there.

Right now is a great time to lock in a commitment to solar. Please say more.

Going solar is a bit of a commitment, so we recommend having us out for a quote to explore options, and if you are not ready right away, no problem. But you should be aware that if you want to take advantage of the 2023 30% income tax Investment Tax Credit, you’ll need to have your system installed by the end of the year and we’re filling up our calendar quickly!

It sounds like an exciting time to be in solar.

Yes, absolutely. There is a lot of interest in solar and that makes us happy. Solar is on an unprecedented growth trajectory, thanks in part to the families and businesses that have opted to go solar with True South over the past 13 years. For that, we’re incredibly grateful, and excited for our future of self-sufficiency!.

In conclusion, please tell us more about your upcoming solstice event.

Sure! We have 31 String Drive and the Annoyful Joys playing music throughout the afternoon. We’ll have two food trucks and Hawaiian shaved ice serving complimentary refreshments, and a large gathering of our friends and neighbors celebrating the sun from 3pm to 7pm on June 21 at 125 Clear Creek Drive in Ashland. We hope to see you there!

Eric, thanks so much for doing this interview with me today.

Thank you, Shields! We love the LocalsGuide!

Learn More:

True South Solar
125 Clear Creek Drive, Ashland
(800) 947-1187

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