MEET YOUR MERCHANT: Childhood friends from south Nevada County form DC Solar, providing solar solutions
DC Solar Electric Inc.
12888 Spenceville Rd., Penn Valley
When childhood friends Chasin Scott and Derek Stevens graduated from Bear River High School, they took off for Southern California where they enrolled at Orange Coast College.
Eventually, their interests began to take them in different directions. Derek began working in construction and went on to get his contractor’s license. He moved back to Penn Valley and started his own electrical contracting company, Derek Stevens Electric.
Chasin landed a job at an accounting firm, then transferred to Sacramento State to pursue a degree in public relations. He went on to work for Apple, Hewlett Packard and a global engineering consulting firm. But when the economy took a dive, Chasin knew there were no guarantees at the company that employed him and 50,000 others around the world.
“I needed a back up plan just in case,” he said. “My wife and I had just had our first daughter.”
Chasin happened to spot a story in The Union about “mPOWER,” which provided fixed-rate, no-money-down financing to Nevada and Placer county residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and nonprofit property owners for energy efficiency upgrades and energy generation systems. The goals were to lower energy bills, reduce reliance on foreign fuels, stimulate the local economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Many property owners were already taking advantage of the residential solar tax credit.
“I thought to myself, ‘This is foolproof,’” said Chasin. “The financing was legitimate, there were a lot of financial incentives and it didn’t require a lot of equity.”
That’s when he decided to call up his old friend Derek with a proposition.
I asked him if he’d ever done solar before — he said yes,” Chasin said. “We sat down together and decided to give it a run. We wrote out our first business plan on a cocktail napkin.”
The duo decided to approach Derek’s father-in-law, Len Stevens (Derek had taken his wife’s last name), whose Penn Valley-based company, Len Stevens Construction, Inc., could lend credibility and 30-plus years of experience to the team.
“When we sat down with Len to see if he wanted to be a partner he said yes, but on one condition,” said Chasin. “That we carry the same lifetime warranty on all our work that his company does. That turned out to be one of the main features that set us apart. We might make a little less money on a job but we always know we’re doing the right thing.”
Launched in 2008
DC Solar Electric officially launched in 2008, with an office based in Penn Valley. With Derek serving as vice president and director of operations, Chasin as vice president and director of business development and Len as president and CEO, the phones haven’t stopped ringing for more than a decade. Today the company provides “solar solutions” in Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Sacramento, Yolo, Sutter and Yuba counties.
“When we started DC Solar, we decided to make it a family company and treat everyone like family. We also felt the need to continue the Len Stevens Construction lifetime guarantee,” said Derek. “I think the most rewarding part of this job is seeing the difference solar makes in our customers’ lives, as well as the feedback we get from our clients. We don’t sell solar, solar sells itself. We are here to find the best products for our clients at the best value.”
With 20 employees and actively recruiting more, the company is growing every day, said Chasin, and proudly offers their staff medical benefits and retirement plans.
“We wanted our employees to enjoy the same benefits we would want for our own families,” said Chasin. “We’re a family company — we treat our employees and customers like family. We don’t sub-contract anything – it’s all done in-house. When we look you in the eye and shake your hand, you can be sure it will be a member of our family coming out to your house.”
In June, DC Solar Electric was thrilled to announce a landmark project — a contract with Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, situated 26 miles northeast of Nevada City. The 3,200-acre park, boasting a rich history in hydraulic mining, will be the first in California to go 100 percent off the grid, thanks to DC Solar.
MOVING MALAKOFF OFF GRID
Previously, the historic town within Malakoff Diggins was powered by a diesel generator. Not only was this costly, it was generally perceived as adverse to clean energy efforts. To seek a more green energy alternative — and to become 100 percent self-sustainable — the park sought proposals. Through thorough vetting and a certification process, DC Solar Electric was selected as the off-grid solar electric installation contractor.
“The ‘Notice to Proceed’ is monumental and serves as a model for other historic parks throughout California,” said Chasin. “We see Nevada County and California leading the way for parks around the country. We’ll be lighting the whole town with sun and batteries. To say we had a hand in this model for the future is amazing.”
Despite their remarkable success, employees say they are committed to maintaining a personal touch when it comes to customer service. In fact, it’s the cornerstone of their business philosophy.
“DC Solar Electric was founded on family principles and we are proud to see how our company has grown throughout Penn Valley and the surrounding areas, while still maintaining the close family feeling we value,” said Len. “We are excited about the current projects we have lined up, including Malakoff Diggins State Park, as well as all of the savings we have been able to, and will deliver to, our customers. Additionally, we will gladly always remain devoted to supporting our community.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email Cory@theunion.com.
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