THE BEGINNING: SOLAR ENERGY IN THE 1970S
Having been in the solar business for 40 years now, AMECO Solar has come a long way since our humble beginnings in 1974. Throughout this time, we’ve always stayed true to the core mission of our company: to provide reliable, cost-effective solar solutions in an effort to secure a clean energy future and create a better environment for us all.
After working for PRC Engineering in Saudi Arabia during the seventies, Patrick Redgate returned to Southern California with a new purpose in mind: energy independence through solar energy.
Realizing that we could not rely on fossil fuels forever, he pledged to spread the solar energy “gospel” throughout Southern California. He began an internship at Alternative Energy Systems (AES) and later joined Link (& Sun) Solar, first becoming owner and then later President & CEO. The company name was changed to AMECO Solar Inc., a company whose customer list dates back to 1974 when Gerald Ford was the President.
Since we were founded, we have installed solar hot water systems and solar pool heaters. Often referred to as solar thermal, these solar panels allowed our customers to heat their water with solar energy instead of gas or electricity.
In the beginning we actually made our own solar panels, some of which are still operating. Eventually we partnered with solar manufacturing companies, always being sure to choose products that met our standards and made the most sense to us.
The Solar Rise (and Fall) of the 1980s
As the efficiency of solar thermal panels improved, the cost began to come down. Then, in 1978, Congress passed the Energy Tax Act giving homeowners a $2,000 tax credit for installing a rooftop solar system. This tax credit program was later expanded.
The State of California added a credit to the federal incentive, and utilities were instructed to provide rebates to early adopters of solar. This led to a surge of interest in solar panels during the 1980s and AMECO added two offices to its original location in the Long Beach area.
During the 1980s, there were over 50,000 Californians employed by solar companies. The incentives were all phased out by January 1st, 1986. When the dust settled, only 2,000 solar professionals remained employed statewide by the end of 1986.
Solar Rebates and Incentives Spur Growth in the 90s
Two seminal solar events occurred in the late 1990s: 1) a bill was passed creating incentives for grid-tied solar PV systems in California and 2) the Emerging Renewables Program (ERP) was created. Rebates and a modest state tax credit helped reduce the cost of going solar while the program raised awareness about solar energy on a national scale.
As part of utility deregulation, Net Energy Metering (NEM) for renewable energy was permitted giving solar panels owners the option to feed energy back to the utility’s grid and receive credit for overproduction. This made the installation of solar electric panels not only viable, but also eliminated many technical barriers to grid-tied renewable electricity.
FROM THE EARLY 2000S AND BEYOND
As funding for the ERP dwindled and the State Tax Credit was eliminated, Governor Schwarzenegger and state legislators created the California Solar Initiative (CSI) in 2007. By offering Californians incentives for their solar panels with funding that was predictable and long term, the original goal to install 1,940 megawatts of new solar generation capacity by 2017 would be easily accomplished.
Once again, over 50,000 Californians were employed by the solar industry, which made our state’s economy (and environment) healthier. Simultaneously, the market became flooded with panel solar manufacturing companies, a few who were based in the US but mainly foreign-based companies. This drove the price of solar panels down even more.
The low cost of manufacturing solar panels combined with significant solar rebates and tax incentives has made solar panel installation a financially viable option for many Southern Californians. We are happy to be helping even more customers go solar.
For the third time in 10 years, AMECO Solar outgrew its offices and warehouse, and moved to our current 10,000 square foot warehouse and office in Paramount, where we have been based since 2008.
CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF SOLAR INSTALLATION IN SO CAL
In 2014, AMECO Solar is celebrating our 40th Anniversary. As part of the celebration, we put together an infographic that shows our 40 years of experience in a fun visual way.
Though so much has changed since 1974, our company still remains committed to promoting solar energy as a way to establish energy independence and work towards a brighter, sustainable future.
We look forward to another 40 years of helping Southern Californians go solar.