After a decade of installing more solar systems in Nevada County and its surrounding communities than all other local solar companies combined, according to California Solar Initiative Statistics, 2013, Grass Valley’s own California Solar Electric Company is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
“It’s really incredible to see the changes in the industry and our company in the last 10 years, we really have come a long way,” said company owner Lars Ortegren.
California Solar Electric, often referred to simply as Cal Solar, sprang into existence in 2004. Cal Solar was an evolution of Black Oak Electric, which was founded in 2000 by Daniel Flanigan and served many of the community’s electrical needs. Ortegren, who was Flanigan’s second employee, eventually, took full ownership of the company with a keen interest in solar design and installation.
Since its inception, Cal Solar has partnered with local businesses, such as Plan It Solar, and has dominated the local solar market. The company has designed and installed solar arrays throughout Central and Northern California, all the way from King City to Sierraville.
Locally, Cal Solar has provided arrays to Grizzly Hill School, Ananda Village, Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic, Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital, Nevada City Hall and the town’s renovated Masonic building, the Pioneer Park Pool, as well as numerous commercial, residential and off-grid systems.
“Not only do people seek solar to save money on energy bills, but we also see customers who range from wanting to rely on a more environmentally-friendly energy source to people who just want the comfort of self-dependence,” said Ortegren, also the company’s president who specializes in off-grid design and installation projects.
The company also stresses community involvement and continues to support local organizations like Hospitality House, Music in the Mountains, local 4-H clubs, Nevada City School of the Arts, National Theatre Live and Full Circle Learning to name a few.
At its new headquarters in downtown Grass Valley, Cal Solar provides all services in-house, such as designing both roof- and ground-mounted arrays and installing them with its expanding team of trained and North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified staff.
“While there are very few people who have achieved that level of certification, it is expected as a Cal Solar employee that you earn your NABCEP within the first few years,” said Brandon Davis, Cal Solar’s sales and design manager.
“The fact that we have one of the highest ratios of NABCEP installers and designers in the U.S. is nothing to shake a stick at, and all of our installers being state certified electricians is noteworthy too,” Ortegren said.
Setting the bar high for its own people translates to quality work, he added.
“As a company, having enthusiastic customers is our greatest asset,” he said.
Cal Solar celebrated its anniversary Thursday at the company’s headquarters.