As much as Democrats and Republicans compete against each other for votes, they do (sometimes) come together for mutually beneficial legislation. Two competing New Mexico rooftop contractors can relate: they decided to team up to bid on large-scale projects to keep jobs local.
Sol Luna Solar (No. 323 on the 2018 Top Solar Contractors list) and PPC Solar regularly battle for solar customers in Northern New Mexico. When the local utility Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) announced 35 MW of projects in the next few years, the utility actually suggested Sol Luna and PPC join together.
“Kit’s wish was to keep all of these jobs as local as possible to benefit the local economy,” said Mark Johnson, Sol Luna CEO. “Kit suggested we form a joint venture together, because they didn’t want to deal with us separately.”
The two companies now operate as ParaSol Solar, a name that means umbrella. The solar installers operating under the same umbrella finished the utility’s first 1.5-MW project and plan to complete another 10 MW before the end of 2018.
Johnson said while the two companies are still regularly bidding against each other for smaller projects, the third-party venture operates very smoothly.
“We’re really combining forces. We’re doing the procurement together,” he said. “Being competitors in the same area, we procure materials from the same suppliers, so that has been seamless. We’re well-positioned to complete this.”
KCEC recently announced a goal for 100% daytime solar energy by 2022. The roadmap of 35 MW will provide 34% of the area’s total electricity demand and 100% during daylight hours on sunny days.
“Our decision to recommend ParaSol Solar as our EPC partner was intended to build a world-class solar fleet,” said Luis Reyes, KCEC’s CEO, in a press release. “The re-emphasis demonstrates KCEC’s commitment to our local labor force and to economic development within the region.”
Johnson said this partnership between Sol Luna and PPC is a novel approach, but everyone agrees it’s well worth rising above the daily competition to ensure a local workforce is used for projects that will benefit the community for years to come.
This story was featured exclusively in our 2018 Top Solar Contractors issue. See the issue and full list of top U.S. solar installers here.