SBJ: Arrowpoint Solar operates in three states and has multiple national accounts. What are the keys to your growth?
Shawn Roberts: We owned a commercial LED lighting company before we got into solar. So, I really had an acute understanding of energy technology, energy savings, ways to mitigate your utility costs. A lot of our clients back in 2017 started asking us about solar. Commercial solar projects are complicated, they take a long time to complete, they require sophisticated engineering, there’s no quick and easy funding processes for them, so they’re kind of a challenge. Since I understood that world, it was an easy transition for us. We got our feet wet with the BKD building back in 2019. We understand the process a little more intuitively than a startup when it comes to making a business owner happy. You’re basically going into a 20-year marriage because these systems are designed to last 20, 30 years.
SBJ: A report from the U.S. Solar Market Insight finds solar capacity was at the highest it’s been in Q3 of last year, with 33% growth year over year. What are the factors fueling growth?
Roberts: It’s dramatically fueled by the tax credits and incentives that are available for not only business owners, but also homeowners to go solar. Another reason for this growth is up until this year, the price point was low and you could get the materials readily. It was not as exotic to put a big solar farm in like it was 10 years ago. The utility companies all have policies in place now to allow for solar to be interconnected to their clients’ properties. Right now, the industry is facing a bit of an uphill battle because, just like in so many other industries, it’s hard to get products.
SBJ: How has the price of solar shifted in recent years?
Roberts: Definitely in the last two to three years there have been a lot more lenders and different programs come available that clients can access that allow them to do solar on their business or home without putting any money down. I’m talking even multimillion-dollar projects. You can cash flow the project entirely through energy savings and then still reap the benefits of the tax credits and the accelerated depreciation.
SBJ: Even with the growth and expanded financing options, you don’t see solar panels lining the roofs of many homes or businesses. What are the hurdles for widespread adoption?
Roberts: Not everybody is a good candidate for solar right now because not everybody pays the same utility rate and not every utility company has the same standardized rules for how much solar they’ll let you put on or what they’ll even pay you for the power you produce. Until there’s a national rule that every utility company has to follow, there’s always going to be some candidates that are better than others. No. 2, the orientation of their roof may completely prohibit solar. The other one would be, you may not need the tax credit. Everybody would benefit from solar if it was free. It changes whenever you factor the cost in.
SBJ: Do you see a tipping point in your growth?
Roberts: We’ve reached the tipping point of sorts, which is we’re now getting ready to fully diverge into two separate divisions, one focusing 100% on commercial solar and one focusing 100% on residential solar. The needs of the clients are so much different; the way the systems are sold and designed and installed are completely different.
The congregation at Crossway Baptist Church is building a children’s wing at the west end of the church, and beginning in 2024, it will be home to a Christian academy.