Clean Power Systems in Poway focuses on residential and commercial solar installations, with plans to target the agricultural market in the future. It installs only SunPower solar panels, for which it is a certified premier dealer.
Clean Power was founded five years ago by Tim Bosworth, a veteran in the commercial and residential electrical industry and a respected electrical contractor. The company has grown quickly to 45 employees, all of them certified by NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) or SunPower.
CEO Kirk Mulligan, who came aboard in 2004, conceived one of the largest solar electric systems in Virginia at the time, while still an undergraduate student at James Madison University in Virginia.
Revenues have doubled every year for the last four years under Mulligan's stewardship. The company did $6.8 million in sales last year and projected revenues for 2008 are between $8 million and $10 million.
Residential solar sales comprise 60 percent of the business, the balance coming from commercial installations, which the company began doing 18 months ago. It installs and maintains systems across San Diego County.
"Poway is an ideal location for us, because we have access to all the major highways," said Mulligan. "We are able to disperse our trucks pretty quickly. Also, the number of solar systems we sell in the North County is higher than in other areas."
Solar power is a significant investment for most homeowners, and many customers take out a home equity loan to finance their systems. Clean Power provides its customers with a 10-year labor and workmanship warranty and a five-year performance guarantee, which covers the production of power for the entire system. If anything goes wrong, the company offers same-day troubleshooting.
On the low end, typical residential solar systems run about $20,000, consisting of eight panels that can produce 2 kW of power. At the mid-range, systems cost about $49,000, consisting of 22 to 25 panels that can produce about 5 kW. At the high end, for really big homes, Clean Power has installed 30 kW solar systems that cost $250,000.
Aaron Husak, sales and marketing manager at Clean Power Systems, said most customers continue to be connected to the grid. Some homeowners prefer small systems and others opt for large systems. Typically, he said, they are set up for systems that produce 75 percent of their normal usage.
Solar systems are sized and rated in kilowatts (kW). Based on a customer's location and the hours of sunlight received, Clean Power can predict the amount of electricity that will be generated. A 2 kW system can produce up to 2 kW of power after one hour of full exposure to the sun.
In the commercial market, installations range between 5 kW to 600 kW, and sometimes even up to 1 megawatt. Clean Power recently undertook a project for a 250 kW system in an Apple Valley hospital.
From quote to actual installation, the process takes about 90 days. Actual time frames depend on local permits, which vary from city to city. To make the process as hassle-free as possible, Clean Power takes care of all the paperwork for its customers.
The renewable energy industry has enjoyed investment tax credits and production tax credits. While California enjoys some of the strongest incentive plans for solar, federal tax credits are set to expire at the end of this year, with no sign from Congress that the renewal bill will be passed. The credits have played a major role in investments in this sector, as well as in propelling growth within the industry.
"I feel that the industry is booming and it has so much interest from Wall Street that it doesn't really bode well if the politicians pull away from the tax credits. They will be allowed to lapse, but will be renewed in the second quarter of 2009," Mulligan predicted.
Nagappan is a San Diego-based freelance business writer.
Clean Power Systems Inc. 13230 Evening Creek Drive S., Suite 203 San Diego, CA 92128 800-488-1063 www.noelectricbill.com
Description: Clean Power Systems provides and installs residential and commercial solar panels in Southern California. CPS services customers seeking leading-edge solutions to their alternative energy needs, utilizing the most efficient solar energy systems. Customers realize immediate and long-term savings, while securing the capability to generate their own clean, renewable power.
CEO: Kirk Mulligan
COO/Responsible Managing Officer: Tim Bosworth
2007 Sales: $6.8 million
2008 Projected Revenues: $8 million-$10 million