Orange County Builder Goes Solar

With tremendous state rebates and the Governor’s talk of a Million Solar Homes Initiative, businesses in California’s building trades are becoming increasingly involved with solar energy. And not just on the homes they help build either. Trimco Finish, a large tract finish contractor in Orange County, now has their own commercial scale system on top of their company facility.

After rebates and tax incentives, the new 178 kW array only cost owner Mark Louvier 20 percent of the system’s total price, making solar power an excellent business investment. The 178 kW system is the largest in the city of Santa Ana and presented a number of design challenges for contactor Solar Electrical Systems. Trimco’s 50,000 square foot facility has a monolithic fiberglass low slope roof riddled with dozens of skylights and roof obstructions. This type of roof required a non-penetrating system that would still meet the city’s structural weight, adhesion, and wind loading requirements. City zoning requirements also posed a number of aesthetic limitations on the visibility of the system. To help Santa Ana prepare for future solar installations, SES President Greg Johanson conducted a training session for the city inspectors. In 1998, California became the first state to offer solar incentives. Today, over 14,000 businesses and homeowners have installed solar power systems. State incentives reduce the cost of solar electric systems by 50 percent. Federal solar tax incentives, which have been available since 1992, help to cut costs even further. The state solar program continues through 2012 but at a declining rate. Worldwide, the solar electric industry has grown annually over 30 percent to over $1.8 billion in sales, according to Sharp. SES is a licensed general and electrical contractor specializing in the design and installation of photovoltaic solar electrical systems in California. The company has installed 5 MW to date over 25 years of business on over 500 residential and 100 commercial PV systems in Southern California.
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