Northwest Renewable News

Your Daily Source for Renewable Energy News in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana & Northern California

Mt. Shasta Solar Company says business in booming February 12, 2009

Filed under: Solar — nwrenewablenews @ 3:49 pm

Though most news regarding the current economy is heavily laced with pessimism, some businesses are bucking the downward trend, including those who are working in such renewable energy technology fields as solar and wind power.
Standing as a microcosm of the prevailing national  renewable energy trend – an area of the economy that both President Obama and Governor  Schwarzenegger have been adamantly promoting – is the Mt. Shasta based company Wholesale Solar.
Currently experiencing robust growth despite a slowly eroding larger economic picture, Wholesale Solar co-owner Mark Coleman said, “Our fourth quarter income for 2008 was $1 million greater than in 2007. We have watched our business grow year by year and saw a 44% growth over the course of the 2007/08 fiscal year.”
Those figures are good news for any small business, but in a county ranked as one of the poorest in the state and plagued by an unemployment rate that has spiked three points in recent months to almost 14%, it is particularly noteworthy.
Mark and Ellen Coleman started in Taos, New Mexico as Taos Green Solar, where they homesteaded and raised their family off-grid. Since moving to Mount Shasta in 2002, the couple has continued to build their “pioneer” internet based business and currently project future   growth to be about 30% per year.
“Things have changed so much since the ’90s when we first started,” said  Ellen  Coleman, referring to both the evolution of the technology as well as its overall affordability.
Now, given both the ecological and economic imperatives of moving away from fossil fuels, renewable energy technologies such  solar,  wind,  small scale hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, and hydrogen fuel cells have moved into the mainstream.
Though renewable energy  technology was once the provence of those living “off grid,” usually in places where no electrical connection was available, the current trend is toward “grid-tied” systems, which allow the homeowner or business to sell power back to the electrical grid. These systems may be a way of either  lowering electric bills or, in other applications, putting more power on the grid than what is consumed.  With both off grid and grid-tied systems currently available, a growing number of Californians are waking up to the possibilities of renewable energy.
Sweetening the pot is the fact that, as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, federal tax credits for renewable energy installations have been extended to 2017. The tax credit was extended to both business and residential installations, and under the new legislation, the previous $2,000 cap for residential solar installations is eliminated. As  of Jan. 1, the purchase of a residential solar electric system will receive a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost system, including installation.
According to a recent report  issued by the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Solar Initiative, a program designed to promote solar energy throughout the state, showed that Californians in 2008 installed twice as many megawatts of solar power than the year before.
A press release from Governor  Schwarzenegger on Jan. 28 stated, “Our vision of solar panels lining the rooftops of houses and businesses across California is becoming a reality. I’m encouraged to see that even in these difficult financial times we are breaking solar installation records and spurring private investment in solar projects.
The California Solar Initiative was first conceived in 2004 when  Schwarzenegger expanded state support for solar power and announced the Million Solar Roofs Program.
In 2006, the CPUC and the California Energy Commission collaboratively developed a framework for the program, and with the Governor’s support and the statutory authority expressed in SB 1 by Senator Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles), the California Solar Initiative was officially launched on Jan. 1, 2007.
With a workforce that varies between 13 and 18 employees, Wholesale Solar has provided jobs to a lackluster local economy.
Though the Coleman’s expressed their desire to remain a small business, they hope to see their business serve as a catalyst for others.
“We see Wholesale Solar as an incubator for other businesses,” said Ellen Coleman,  noting that their business has the potential to fuel local businesses, from systems installers to green building contractors.
Though the Colemans say that only a small percentage of their customers are from Siskiyou County, they do aspire to serve the community that they have grown to love.
“We want to help foster the substantiability of our community,” said Ellen Coleman, speaking of their love of the area and the ideals that helped launch their business.
A part of the company’s mission is rooted in educating people about the currently available renewable energy options.
“Investing in Solar or wind technology helps you take control of your life. It gives you independence,” said Mark Coleman.
More information about renewable energy systems can be found wholesalesolar.com.

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