Solar Power Pros: How a New Colorado Installer Grows His Business

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Bill Clay, founder of local Colorado installer Solar Power Pros, talks to PV Solar Report about his company’s strengths, its successes, and its plan to navigate a dynamic, crowded marketplace. 

Solar Power Pros is a small Colorado solar installer that just got its start last March. PV Solar Report talked with founder Bill Clay to see how his company differentiates itself in today’s solar market. 

PV Solar Report: How is your young business positioned for success in a competitive marketplace?

“We’re a new business, but we work with a lot of experienced people,” Clay says, adding, “it’s also a really dynamic industry and we expect it to grow in the coming years.” His own background is in satellite engineering and telecommunications management, but Clay had been eyeing the solar market, getting his team ready. Solar Power Pros works with a master electrician as well as a structural engineer with over 20 years of residential experience. The company also has an important partnership with Conergy, which finances power purchase agreements (PPAs) and provides information about permitting rules. 

Clay says, “We differentiate ourselves in the solar space because we’re smaller and more nimble. Specifically, we can take more time in the design phase and really work with the client and run through different design options. We also strive to focus on aesthetics, and I don’t hear that a whole lot but it is important. Some clients are concerned about a solar system detracting from the appearance of their home.

“We are competitive on price because of our partnerships with Conergy and our wholesale providers. But Solar Power Pros is not tied to any particular manufacturer, so we can accommodate all our customers’ preferences. We’re also a local business. We point out that we spend dollars locally and hire locally. That resonates with some people.”

PV Solar Report: What is your marketing strategy?

Clay explains, “We have several home and garden shows planned throughout the year. People are out at those interested in home improvement projects and it’s a great opportunity to talk to folks who may be thinking about solar. We can give people a lot of information that would take them a while to get off the web and piece together themselves.” 

Solar Power Pros sales reps use Google Earth images and electric bill estimates to come up with ballpark numbers for all options: cash purchases, financing, and PPAs. In about five minutes, they give homeowners knowledge about the installation process and a concise set of estimates.

The other main marketing focus is on an informative web presence. Clay says, “We use social media. We also want to provide a website that isn’t just something for people to read about us, but also be a set of informational tools, like a savings calculator and explaining all the purchase options. When you want to start looking into solar it’s really nice to have somewhere to go to start doing that research. It’s a great opportunity to bring that customer in.”

PV Solar Report: What is your outlook for the solar market?

“It’s such a dynamic industry right now. Watch it in the next five to ten years: it’s going to be amazing. We really hope that in that time solar will become competitive with traditional power sources on price, without subsidies. That’s exciting because it will take the uncertainty of policy out of the picture. We want to be a part of changing the landscape and getting more solar out there.”

In addition to running the business, Clay is active in energy policy forums such as the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Environment Colorado.