HOPKINTON, Massachusetts: Now wrapping up its eighth year in business, Hopkinton-based solar firm Solect Energy is launching a new energy-storage division as it looks to continue meeting power needs in the area.
The business, a solar developer and installer that focuses on commercial and institutional customers, has installed more than 65 megawatts of photovoltaic systems in its history.
Solect Chief Development Officer Craig Huntley said the company has its origins just short of a decade ago, when he and fellow co-founders Ken Driscoll and James Dumas were considering new ventures.
“We were all from Hopkinton, and we had been involved in other businesses before this,” he said. “About nine years ago, we were sitting around and thinking about the next opportunity.”
Inspired by an aggressive build-out of solar capacity in Massachusetts, the three opted to pursue what they felt was a gap: the commercial/industrial solar market, which they believed was under-served by existing providers.
“We’ve grown from three guys and a laptop to 80 employees, in such places as Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Illinois,” he said.
Operating in Massachusetts – and particularly in MetroWest – has been advantageous for Solect, said Huntley.
The state has done an excellent job in making solar power attractive to customers through incentives, and the area is full of rooftops appropriate for solar panels.
Solect’s new division will have the company selling NEC energy storage equipment as well – an expansion aimed at addressing more of its customers’ needs. John Mosher, vice president of the division, said batteries can aid in power grid modernization efforts as more and more conventional sources of power are taken offline.
While certain batteries can be used to provide backup power during blackouts, their main benefit will be the reduction of power use during “peak” demand times.
“During certain periods of the day, utility rates are elevated,” Huntley said.
Rather than using power during these more expensive times, Mosher said, a company could tap into the power it has stored in its battery – providing significant savings on its utility bill. Massachusetts, he noted, has quite high peak demand charges.
“The MetroWest area, to date, has really embraced solar – we think the same will happen with storage,” he said. “We think solar and storage are part of a comprehensive solution.”