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SolarCity opens doors, one stop for clean energy

Date: 1/2/2015

AGAWAM – SolarCity has opened its doors in its fourth operations center in Massachusetts but this time, in the western part of the state.

With other locations in Pembroke, Marlborough and Wilmington, Agawam became home to the first SolarCity in Western Massachusetts in October. SolarCity is a solar energy provider that assists homeowners in making the switch to clean energy.

The office currently has a staff of 34, but Regional Operations Manager Craig Ells said that he is looking for approximately 50 more people to hire, especially as the branch continues to “rapidly grow.”

While the creation of jobs is always good news, residents have another reason to rejoice. As energy bills go up, Ells said that solar power offers people the chance to lower monthly bills while helping eliminate or lessen the carbon footprint.

“We’re trying to produce clean power and get rid of dirty power. We want to give them the choice to have it,” Ells said. “They can benefit by having the choice to either pay for their utility rates that are going to start rising. They have the choice to pay for clean power.”

Though SolarCity works to offset the cost of electric bills, it is not entirely independent of traditional electric companies, but it is a start, Ells said. He added that SolarCity walks customers through every step of the process.

“We work with the homeowner, look at the utility bill and try to see what the offset is going to be. How many panels can they get on a roof, what size system will they need, what will their payment be, what will their offset be according to how many panels they can fit on the house,” Ells said. “We sell it. We design it. We install it, monitor and maintain it for the life of the system.”

Ells said that business has been steadily rising and will continue to do so as SolarCity establishes itself in Western Massachusetts. He said that though the benefits to solar energy are clear – lower bills and clean power – some people are still hesitant to take on solar energy as their primary electrical resource.

“I think maybe the biggest concern is that people still think that it’s overpriced or it might be way too expensive. It’s not. It’s not like that anymore,” Ells said. “It’s not like it was 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. There’s so much new technology out there. We’re able to keep costs down.”

The field is changing, though, and solar energy has become more widely discussed and utilized. Ells said it does not hurt, either, when your staff firmly believes in the steps that the company is taking. 

“Most of the guys that work here believe in that, and I think that’s the biggest benefit to any solar company is their employees believing in what they’re doing, you know? I know I do,” Ells said. “I know my staff does. That’s the biggest thing.”

Ells said that if getting people to see the benefits of solar energy is key, especially younger generations that have the chance to grow up with this as the norm.

“I think a lot of it is that you’re starting to be a lot more conscientious about things like shutting the lights off and now with the increase of rates, you know, people want to save money regardless and going solar is one way to save money. I think for me, having young kids, it’s good to teach them young to get rid of the dirty power and get into the clean power. We’re paving the way for them.”   

This path paving also comes along with spreading solar energy around the world. SolarCity installs systems in churches, schools and meetinghouses in countries that may not otherwise have access to clean energy. Ells said that these trips, open to any employee of SolarCity, allow the company to provide a basic amenity to people who truly need it.

“Everybody needs power, so why not deliver it to everybody and try to be the utility that we can be?” he asked.

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