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California Solar Bounces Back into Business — with Battery Installations

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When Lars Ortegren from California Solar Electric Company spoke at our February TechTonic about increasing resilience in response to interruptions in grid power, he had no idea how timely the theme of resilience was. Since the quarantine started, Ortegren and his co-workers have had to shut down 90% of California Solar’s day-to-day operations of installing solar power for homes and offices.

But they didn’t give up. Instead, the worker-owned cooperative pivoted to energy storage and a new service — helping customers take advantage of a California Self-Generation Incentive Program rebate that will fund a Tesla Powerwall, a home battery that allows solar users to continue to use their solar energy even when the grid goes down. For customers who have solar power and a well, or are on a medical baseline, the rebate is a great deal. It will pay for the entire Tesla Powerwall battery and inverter –a $13,000 value.

“It gives you battery back-up for your solar system when the power goes out so you can run your refrigerator and lights and well,” said Ortegren. “During the day, your house runs on solar, at night it runs off batteries.” California Solar has been working hard to get the word out about this rebate to existing customers as well as to people who have been thinking about getting solar.  “If you are looking for a reason to buy solar, now is the time,” said Ortegren.

California Solar discovered this rebate program and only two weeks later they were set up as program administrators and certified by Tesla to sell and service their products. In the meantime, scheduled solar installations have been continuing on a skeletal “Essential Service” basis, with protocols like physical distancing to keep employees and customers safe.  Most of California Solar’s field staff is doing online training at home. This worker-owned solar energy installation cooperative is carrying on the tradition of grit and ingenuity that Nevada County has been famous for since the gold mining days.

For more information about the rebate, contact California Solar at (530) 274-3671 or visit their website.

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