Big-name, multi-site contracts can increase a solar installer’s standing in the industry, but for SolareAmerica, a partnership with the Wawa convenience store chain only built on the 12-year-old company’s legacy.
In this episode of the Contractor’s Corner podcast, John Scorsone, president of SolareAmerica, talks about the gas-pump solar canopies and ground-mounts involved in the Wawa project portfolio, and how it has provided the company with a front-seat to the emerging EV charging market as well.
A portion of the interview is below, but be sure to listen to the full podcast for even more insight, including how COVID-19 is still affecting product supply today.
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How did SolareAmerica get its start?
It came about through my experience of 12 years with the oil and chemical industry. I was on the dark side for quite some time. I always had a large territory, which included California, and in my travels back and forth to California, I noticed what was going on with deregulation and how solar was becoming viable. So I got interested, but why it became an obsession was how similar solar seemed to me historically to how the oil industry started — basically, they were running out of whales and needed a source for kerosene. So they found a spot in Western Pennsylvania that was famous for oil, and lo and behold the oil industry started. To me, solar was a similar situation. Now we’re in the 21st century and solar is going to replace coal, gas and hopefully all fossil fuels. I ended up taking classes for renewable energy design. When I left the oil industry, I started another company but always had solar in mind. I decided to pull the trigger and start SolareAmerica officially in 2009.
How did solar canopies and carports become an early niche for SolareAmerica?
I still do not like carport designs aesthetically. We had customers that wanted to go solar but did not want to put them in their parking area. So we, being a can-do company, decided we’d find the solution. We fully expected there to be another company out there with a solution that was better than carports, but we found there isn’t one. We partnered with an MIT engineer and came up with our own design which we’ve since patented — a long-span canopy. It came out of wanting to satisfy a customer need and having to invent something.
Are you doing EV charger installations?
That is the hot topic now in 2021. I don’t believe we talk to a customer that does not ask us about car charging and solar canopies. It’s a huge growth industry right now. I think [EV chargers and energy storage] are going to grow up together. As the electrical vehicle market continues to grow, obviously charging stations are going to need to follow suit. As far as home or commercial battery use, they will follow suit because the price of batteries will fall with the increase of battery usage in the auto industry.