SolSolutions Sees Market Opportunity
As clean air regs have more bite, solar-powered generators may fill need.
By Loralee Stevens, Special to the Business Journal, 6/17/13
SANTA ROSA — A local maker of solar-powered generators is feeling the winds of change in California and hoping they blow him a lot more business.
SolSolutions (707-515-6783, sol-solutions.com), a four-year-old green company that provides solar generators to outdoor concerts and other entertainment venues, construction site workers and off-the-grid fans, is looking forward to more stringent regulation of diesel generators.
“I picture a cap-and-trade arrangement for users of diesel generators,” said Chaz Peling, chief executive officer.
Right now the highly polluting generators — they can release more air pollution than even the highest-emitting power plants — enjoy protections from federal and state clean air regulation. Even the Environmental Protection Agency concedes they provide an important service as emergency backup systems.
But the EPA deplores the amount of carcingenic material they release and recently put a cap on the number of hours they can run in a year, going into effect next year.
The EPA will also require the users of diesel generators to file a detailed annual report, providing the location of the generator, dates it was used and all times of operation.
“There’s talk of even stronger regulations in California,” said Mr. Peling. “People are really on the lookout for alternative energy generators.”
Initially those people were mostly environmentally conscious types, putting on green fairs and benefit concerts with solar generators. But SolSolutions has been building up its client base and developing new products and services.
“We have super efficient LED light towers now, a SolMan Lithium Deluxe generator, and specially-built trailers to carry the equipment. We can come in and set it up and run it, or we can lease it out.”
So popular has the leasing model been that one client wants to lease as many generators as SolSolutions can build, but even with a new facility on Piner Road in Santa Rosa, the company doesn’t have the capacity to ramp up production.
Mr. Peling and his team are on the prowl for investment dollars. He figures a seed round of angel funding would allow the company to build 100 units.
Meanwhile SolSolutions is focussing on the entertainment industry, where night time concerts often rely on diesel generators to light vendor areas and parking lots.
The Sonoma County Fair has agreed to use some SolSolutions light towers for the gate at its night concerts, but the bulk of its night time area lights will still come from diesel, he said.
The BottleRock Music Festival in Napa used SolSolutions to power its VIP, security and area lighting.
Other users of temporary area lighting are police investigative teams, night time construction crews and the military.
The company’s flagship portable generator, the SolMan Classic, delivers up to 1500 watts of AC power or 12 volts DC power, with 2400 watt hours of storage capacity.
That’s not enough to charge up your electric car, but plenty to run your computer or charge up your cell phone during a blackout. Or light up your event for two days running just off battery power.
“And emissions? Zero,” said Mr. Peling.
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