What a year 2017 was.
When it started, it would have been hard to imagine that a little-noted bankruptcy of an Atlanta-based module manufacturer would hold the industry in its thrall from the end of March all the way through to December. And yet the trade case brought by Suniva and later joined by SolarWorld—which still isn’t over—seemed to be the only solar story covered, at least if you read the non-trade press.
Of course, that wasn’t the only thing happening in solar. In fact, we had an exciting year at Standard Solar, starting with our acquisition in March by Énergir, the new Gaz Métro, a well-respected Quebecois energy conglomerate. That acquisition opened up opportunities for us about which we had previously only dreamed.
With $300 million in low-cost capital at our disposal, we had finally moved beyond our installation roots to become so much more. Now not only could we engineer and build stunning arrays and help our customers build their solar futures, but we could finance them, too. And as most of you know, getting financing is often the hardest part of putting a commercial project together.
That’s when our year started to really take off—and some of the projects we got involved in were truly amazing.
Ground-mount, rooftop and carport systems for Delaware Technical Community College, an institution which has educated one-fourth of the state’s residents in one way or another. And, carports completed in a mere four months for Salisbury University, a speed we could only achieve because of our ability to finance the project ourselves. And then there were the many public schools where we made solar a reality.
We financed and built a 1.4 MW system for the Anne Arundel Public Schools system—the fifth biggest district in Maryland—giving the gift of solar to its 82,000 students and its administrators. In an era of tight public-school budgets, financing this system and helping the school to cut its electricity costs by nearly 20%—a goal it hadn’t planned on reaching until 2021—made us swell with pride.
But nothing we did last year quite matched our projects with the DC Department of General Services (DGS). Starting in 2016, we built solar arrays on more than 30 municipal buildings, culminating in completion of the final arrays in June.
DGS liked our work so much we are putting an additional 20 arrays on public buildings, this time leveraging our new-found financing ability in the process. We can’t wait to fully complete these projects in 2018 and further expand solar in the world’s only LEED Platinum Certified city of Washington D.C.
We hope it’s obvious that we love what we do at Standard Solar, but sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of running the business each day that we forget that our work is having a positive impact on our world. Fortunately, in 2017, we had two instances where well-respected industry organizations forced us to pause for a moment and really examine the good work we had done.
We were fortunate enough to earn validation for two of our projects this year. Our project with Delaware Technical Community College won the Solar Focus Project of the Year Award from our local four-state solar association (MDV-SEIA), and our DGS project was among the Project of the Year finalists as chosen by the editors of PowerGen and Renewable Energy World magazines.
It’s this type of recognition that reminds us why we do what we do, and we were honored to have our work considered for both awards. It’s gratifying that the team here at Standard Solar is getting the message that they are important, that they matter and that they are making a difference.
But now that 2017 is in our rearview mirror, it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves once again and go back to doing what we do best: financing, engineering, constructing and caring for the solar projects we’ll do this year—and making sure our customers are satisfied with our work and helping move this Solar Century along.
We have no crystal ball or psychic powers, and we’d be lying if we told you we knew exactly what 2018 will bring the solar industry. But given what we’ve been through, even in just the past five years, we have no doubt that the solar industry will continue its success no matter what the national policy framework looks like.
At Standard Solar, we’re proud of what we did in 2017, but we’re even more excited about what we’re going to do in 2018. Happy New Year to all, and may all your days be sunny.
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