LWS featured in Solar Power World
Steve Johnson, president of Nashville, Tenn.-based LightWave Solar, first dabbled in the solar industry back in 1982. But it took him until 2006 to launch his own company â€” and he hasnâ€™t looked back.
â€œI always liked solar because I liked the idea of making your own electricity,â€ Johnson says. â€œSomething captivated me about the whole concept. Why wouldnâ€™t you want to do that if you could?â€
LightWave Solar is the largest solar installer in Tennessee and has seen steady growth for the past three years. From 2008-2011, the company has grown 760% and added more than 30 employees. The company covers the entire state and focuses on 90% commercial and 10% residential installations.
Tennessee was involved last month in something of a controversy over its solar industry, as the Tennessee legislature was working on a bill that would have raised taxes on the industry more than 6,000%. Fortunately, the Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA) negotiated with the legislature to pull the legislation for the balance of 2012. The expectation is that a compromise bill will be brought up during the 2013 legislative session.
Johnson, who serves as the vice president of TenneSEIA, is concerned about where the industry, which employs 6,000 in the state, is.
â€œItâ€™s hard to tell, but it would be a bad idea to cut it off at this point,â€ Johnson says. â€œWe have a diverse number of companies who have relocated their solar businesses here.
â€œBut the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) are cutting back incentives, there are no state incentives to speak of,â€ he continues. â€œWe keep making the argument that all utilities are subsidized â€” why not ours? Hopefully, we have enough of a market penetration to stay strong.â€
Johnson does believe the public is on the side of continuing Tennesseeâ€™s explosive growth in the solar industry.
â€œWeâ€™d like to see it continue,â€ Johnson says. â€œPeople are starting to see solar as the gift that keeps on giving â€” and thatâ€™s good for everybody.â€ SPW