Solar company 1st Light comes to Massachusetts

March 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

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Solar energy provider 1st Light Energy of Modesto, Calif., and South Plainfield, NJ, said it is expanding into Massachusetts by opening a regional office first near Waltham and hiring 20 people, and later expanding in the Springfield area.

The company said it’s coming to the commonwealth because of growing demand for solar energy from residential and commercial property owners. It also plans to expand into Connecticut and New Hampshire or Maine.

The regional office will be overseen by Robert Palmer, New England regional manager. The hiring for the company’s office and a warehouse is expected to occur within the next couple months.

Within the next 12 months, it plans to add a second, 20-person office in the Springfield area to service customers in western Massachusetts and upstate New York.

First Light Energy already has a large customer in Massachusetts, Extra Space Storage, which also operates in a number of other states, including New Jersey and California.

Plans call for an office in the Hartford, Conn., area this summer, and one in New Hampshire or Maine over the next year.

“Two-thousand and twelve is shaping up to be a perfect time to do solar business in Massachusetts and the New England region,” Barrett Peck, vice president of sales and marketing for 1st Light Energy, said in a statement. Peck added that 1st Light only uses American-made products, including solar inverters from Solectria of Lawrence, Mass., and panel racks from PanelClaw of North Andover, Mass.

As part of its Massachusetts launch, 1st Light is offering an incentive program. Customers who sign contracts with 1st Light Energy in the month of April 2012 will have their electricity bill covered by the company during the installation process, which takes about 60 to 90 days. Anyone who makes a referral to someone who becomes a 1st Light Energy customer gets $500 for each successful referral, without limit. Also, any new customer who does so will receive $1,000 for each successful referral.

The Massachusetts office will become a full-service location in the next few months as 1st Light Energy hires people with electrical, roofing and solar panel experience, as well as administrative support.

The company noted that Gov. Deval Patrick has been a strong proponent of alternative energy, with a number of policy and rebate initiatives, including a goal of increasing solar energy installations in the state by 2017 to a capacity of 250 megawatts. That’s enough to power at least 37,500 homes. Among the incentives available in Massachusetts are that 15 percent of the amount spent on solar equipment (including the cost of installation) can be credited, up to a maximum credit of $1,000. There is also a state sales tax exemption on the purchase of solar equipment and a property tax exemption. And there is a “Renewable Energy Trust” with an annual budget of $4 million per year to provide rebates on solar systems purchased and installed in the state, providing rebates of up to $4,250.

First Light was founded in January 2005, according to its Web site.

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