By Kristina Houck
Because San Diego Gas and Electric raised rates for its high-energy users, many San Diego County households and most businesses had a bigger energy bill in September.
To avoid the rate hike, Daniel Jackson had 18 solar panels installed on his 2,500-square-foot Carmel Valley home in April.
“We all know electric is just going up and up,” said Jackson, who lives with his wife, Tracy, and two children. “The rates went up again in September. Now every time I hear about an increase by SDG&E, it basically makes me richer.”
After researching a number of local companies, Jackson chose Semper Solaris, whose leaders have more than 65 years of experience in the building and solar industry. The team at the Alpine-based company thoroughly explained solar and its benefits, Jackson said.
“I just can’t stand sales people and I can’t stand that sleazy kind of feel that I get from a lot of sales guys,” said Jackson, who added he liked that the company uses high-quality, American-made panels. “With Semper Solaris, they just presented the facts. I really liked their presentation. They were really straightforward.”
Before Semper Solaris installed the Jacksons’ system, the family was billed roughly $150 each month. They no longer have a monthly electric bill, Jackson said. In fact, the panels produce more energy — about 100 kilowatts — than the family uses every month.
When SDG&E announced its rate hikes, Semper Solaris received other inquiries from community members like Jackson, said Chief Operating Officer Kelly Shawhan, who co-owns the company with CEO John Almond.
“When SDG&E sent everyone an email telling them what was going to happen, that’s when our phones just exploded,” said Shawhan, who lives in Vista. “People wanted to get solar before it happened. And now that they’re seeing it in their bills, those who didn’t get solar want to get it now so they don’t have to pay that extra amount.”
Shawhan, who has worked in rooftop solar since 1989, established the company with Almond to offer the latest technology made by American companies. The company offers a free energy analysis to prospective customers, as well as discounts to the military, police and firefighting communities.
The military connection is personal. Almond’s father was a career officer and pilot, and Shawhan is a former U.S. Marine Corps captain.
Shawhan said he is proud Semper Solaris uses American products and employs military veterans. All of the company’s field supervisors are former military personnel.
“We’ve got our own Marine Corps going over here,” said Shawhan as he laughed. “I can’t get them to do pushups, but they do a great job installing solar.
“I enjoy watching people’s faces and having customers call me when they see their first electric bill,” Shawhan added. “People realize that they made a great choice and a good investment.”
For more information about Semper Solaris, visit sempersolaris.com.
Note: Business spotlights are developed through this newspaper’s advertising department in support of our advertisers.