With over 300 sunny days per year, Arizona has become a U.S. hotbed for solar installations. So it should come as no surprise that a company called Salt River Solar & Wind has grown from 7 employees in January, 2009 to 100 in March, 2010, especially since the company was founded in Surprise, Arizona. Salt River has certainly had phenomenal growth over the course of the last year, fueled by the still-booming market in Arizona. The company uses industry-leading SunPower solar panels as it struggles to keep up with the growing demand.
After the Arizona Corporation Commission passed the Arizona Renewable Energy Standard in 2006, the founders of Salt River Solar began crafting a business model that eventually launched in December of 2008. Despite the standard growing pains of small businesses, the company managed to continue expanding and serving its customer base. The main challenges faced were finding qualified solar installers and securing financing for customers, since the cost is the main deterrent to going solar in the first place.
For skeptics of how much the turn to solar actually creates jobs, Salt River Solar is a perfect example. For instance, the local auto shop experienced growth as Salt River’s fleet of trucks grew, the business complex Salt River occupies was nearly empty before being filled up as the company expanded, and currently, Salt River is looking to hire 50 more employees in sales, marketing, installation and other related areas.
With any luck, this won’t be the end of the growth for Salt River Solar and other Arizona solar companies. Today, Arizona’s government is considering ways to implement a feed-in-tariff that will only fuel an already-blazing fire. Also, Salt River Solar will be launching a new Megawatt Commercial Rooftop program that will be specifically aimed at commercial businesses looking to offset electricity costs or become standalone generators of their own. No matter what the economy looks like, renewable energy continues to be strong and is likely to stay strong well into the future. After all, there’s still a long way to go before coal is a distant memory (or at least just a back-up system).