Wisconsin isn’t the largest solar market (SEIA ranks it 34th in the country by kilowatts installed), but solar installer Carlson Electric is still managing to keep its employees busy working on solar projects throughout the coronavirus shutdown.
In this episode of the Contractors Corner podcast, Solar Power World editor-in-chief Kelly Pickerel talks with Tim Dilley, director of business development for Carlson Electric, about how the company is holding up during this COVID-19 pandemic.
A portion of the interview is below, but be sure to listen to the full podcast for even more insight, including more about the company’s public outreach, how employees are handling working from home and what the Wisconsin market is like without illness threats.
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Tim: Carlson Electric started in 1977. Obviously “Electric” has been in the name for a while, and it wasn’t until probably eight years ago that a lot of people started inquiring about solar. So after really investigating it over the last eight years, now solar makes up I’d say 90 or 95% of our business.
What’s been the solar interest level from Wisconsin farms?
Tim: The farming segment has definitely been interested. There are a number of bonus incentives with our energy incentive program specifically tailored toward the agriculture market. Our farmers are some of the hardest working people we know. They make Wisconsin what it is, and with the availability to install solar on their homes and their farms having the land, we’ve seen a really strong increase in interest from farms across Wisconsin.
Tim: We’re still installing projects that we sold last year, so we’re definitely prepared for this year. We simply are adapting. If anything, we’re spending a lot of time expanding and focusing on the organization itself and really attacking the things that we haven’t had the time for.
What does Carlson Electric hope to accomplish in the next few years?
Tim: We would like to see ourselves work on and install more multifamily nonprofit projects, low-income housing projects. We really want to be able to help individuals with our projects. We want to be able to offer more unique niche market services that can help our customers. It could be lighting, could be advertising — more of these services that we already do, such as power factor correction, storage, demand charge reduction. There’s a lot that Carlson Electric does and we simply haven’t advertised that in a way that most people would notice. We’re hoping to get the word out that we do a lot more than just solar.