Local Company Solar Roof Dynamics Aims to Help Davis Double Solar by 2020, Plans to Expand Solar Nationally
By Jenean Docter
Last Friday, Solar Roof Dynamics helped coordinate the installation of a solar roof on a North Davis house. The solar system is integrated within the roof, meaning that there are no shingles underneath the solar panels.
Solar Roof Dynamics enjoys a network partnership with multi-billion dollar roofing giant GAF, which has recently launched its Deco Tech solar roof system. Aaron Nitzkin, CEO and founder, believes that the rise of roof-integrated such as this one will encourage more consumers to go solar.
Consumers often complain about unfavorable aesthetics regarding solar systems. Older systems often appear propped up atop roofs “like an afterthought,” according to Nitzkin. However, these innovative roof-integrated solar systems may offer an environmentally, economically, and aesthetically appealing option for consumers. Roof-integrated solar systems “look like an architectural feature,” according to Nitzkin. Such intentionality may provide the variation needed to satisfy different aesthetic and personal preferences once solar roof systems move to the next phase of the adoption cycle.
Nitzkin formed Solar Roof Dynamics over five years ago “to help solar get deployed nationally the right way.” He aims to utilize Solar Roof Dynamics to address two salient challenges that have historically plagued the solar industry: finding customers, and solving roofing quality issues.
Companies that rely on aggressive marketing strategies to access customers—relying on direct calls and door-to-door canvassing, among other strategies—often face profitability issues in the long term. However, Nitzkin believes that installing solar and roof systems concurrently eliminates the need to reach out aggressively to customers, and aligns the warranties of both products.
Within the City of Davis, Solar Roof Dynamics gains most of its customers from referrals. The company maintains strategic partnerships with local roofing companies, most of which are based throughout Vacaville, Sacramento, Concord, and other surrounding cities. The roofers then refer customers interested in solar back to Solar Roof Dynamics, which works to secure a deal with one of its industry veteran network partners on a product the consumer desires.
In the words of its CEO, Solar Roof Dynamics is a “risk-averse” company that only sells consumers products developed by companies with significant successful industry experience. Nitzkin also describes Solar Roof Dynamics as “product, technology, and financing agnostic.” Hence, products taken up by it are likely to remain effective and on the market into the future. The addition of solar-integrated roofing products to Davis homes likely marks the beginning of a sustainable energy trend that is here to stay.
Moreover, Nitzkin categorizes his company as a “value-added distribution company” that aims to help bring roofers into the solar market, and foster their growth and success within it. Solar Roof Dynamics provides local roofing companies with services to aid with sales, engineering, design, and utility paperwork. Its Davis office also boasts a call center, where they sell solar “all over the country, over the phone.”
Although Nitzkin categorizes California as the best solar market—largely a result of its solar tax credits and expensive electricity, among other factors—he predicts that the “most significant solar growth opportunities” lie in other states. Solar Roof Dynamics has expanded since its formation in 2013, and actively sells solar systems in eight states outside of California: Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Nevada—with sales activity in the latter two states beginning just last week. Nitzkin plans to double the revenue of Solar Roof Dynamics every year, and hopes to reach $30 million within the next four years.
The regions most likely to take up solar power systems are those that are part of Investment-Owned Utilities, or IOUs. In California, there are three IOUs: San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas and Electric. Less growth is expected in regions presided over by municipal utility districts, such as SMUD, because the electricity they provide is less expensive than the electricity provided by IOUs.
Davis happens to fall under the service territory of Pacific Gas and Electric, perhaps explaining part of its rapid uptake of home solar energy generation. According to a study conducted by the Berkeley Laboratory in 2016, Davis boasts the second greatest solar penetration in the nation, organized by zip code. At that time, approximately a quarter of homes in Davis had invested in solar power rooftop generation systems. This figure has most likely increased.
Nitzkin also encourages the City of Davis to increase its adoption of rooftop solar system from the perspective of the Chair of the Solar Taskforce, which he has led for at least the past three years. Over the years, the Solar Taskforce has hosted events such as a Solar Fair and a film screening.
He claims that “for most people, solar makes economic sense,” notably reducing power costs for consumers spending $50 per month or more on electricity bills. Rooftop solar systems are becoming increasingly cost effective. For instance, the Deco Tech solar roof system newly released by GAF actually “shaved off five percent of the material costs” compared to the version released the previous year.
Even progressive landlords can, and have, taken advantage of solar roofing systems. Solar roof systems effectively reduce costs for “common area loads,” such as laundry rooms, common rooms, and exercise rooms. Landlords may also opt to install solar systems on the roofs of buildings, provided there is significant space available to do so. They can then reap the benefits of solar tax credits, and charge each unit a standardized electricity cost. Nitzkin claims that his company has even installed solar on a local gas station in Davis.
“Solar years are like dog years,” Nitzkin commented. In an industry that is constantly innovating into the future, the adoption of new solar roofing products onto Davis homes brings this city to the forefront of financially viable sustainable electricity generation. The increasing adoption of electric vehicles within the City of Davis may also play a significant role in the local choice to go solar—the most cost-effective system to power a vehicle, according to the Solar Roof Dynamics CEO.
Given Davis’s campaign to double its quantity of rooftop solar systems to 4,500 by 2020, Nitzkin expects Davis to become the most solar-saturated city in the nation—a goal he hopes Solar Roof Dynamics will help it to fulfill.
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