Photos:Solarponics rooftop installer Roberto Garcia and crew lead Nick King, handle several 385-watt panels, expected to last at least 25 years or longer, on a rooftop in west Atascadero. The job will be finished in a matter of hours after the engineering and structural layouts.
It's an interesting time to be in the energy business, says local contractor, Solarponics, marketing director Frank Scotti.
Recently ranked No. 237 on an industry listing of North America’s top solar contractors, the Atascadero-based company handles residential and commercial jobs in the tri-county area from southern Monterey to northern Santa Barbara. In addition to solar electric, Solarponics specializes in pool heating, water heating, radiant heating and cooling, electric vehicle chargers, and battery storage and backup.
Solar is still what most people pay attention to though, and what they think of when headlines announce a push toward renewable energy standards, such as the commitment from California Gov. Jerry Brown to move the state to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.
“Good timing”, says Scotti. “California has a diverse energy portfolio. But with nuclear and coal electricity being phased out, we will rely much more on solar.”
While the regional utility company PG&E figures out how to maintain the local grid and meet that mandate, they’ll also be relying on third party outfitters like Solarponics to install distributed solar on rooftops throughout their service area. Just recently, San Luis Obispo surpassed the 10,000 solar homes milestone.
“That policy will be good for us in the long run. In 2009, solar energy provided only 0.4 percent of California’s electricity. Today, it’s close to 12 percent,” Scotti said. “In another 10 years, it will be more than 30 percent. And most of that from rooftop solar.”
Also the future, he says is battery storage and backup. “For a homeowner to install solar plus battery, they’re pretty much self-reliant. Excess energy production can be stored in the battery system, like the Tesla, and drawn from during peak demand, or in the event of a power outage. Every system we install today has a battery storage option,” says Scotti.
Perhaps not so coincidentally 30 percent also happens to be the recent White House imposed import tariff on all solar modules manufactured outside of the U.S. While, Scotti adds, that hasn’t had a major impact on the residential projects, “we have to consider all the factors on the market right now; the tariffs, rebates and tax incentives, state level regulation, utility territory rate schedules, CPUC regulations, all that stuff.” The 30 percent tax credit is set to drop to 22 percent on Jan. 1, 2020. The battery rebate is estimated to expire completely by that same date.
“People keep waiting for the technology to get cheaper the way it has with smartphones or new computers every two years,” he explains. “Solar doesn’t really work that way. Solar is cheaper than grid energy right now, so there is no reason to wait. Especially since the tax credit and rebates are going away soon. Every day without solar is lost savings.”
“The bottom line for us is that we’re all solar nerds here. We’re 100% focused on solar and renewables. We absolutely believe in the technology,” says Scotti. “We feel like we’re fighting the good fight and we’re not going to stop until every single building in SLO County has solar.”
Solarponics showroom is located at 4700 El Camino Real in Atascadero. Solarponics is a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer. For more information, call 805-466-5595 or visit their website www.solarponics.com.