Borrego Solar Systems Moves Into The Future

By Joanne Ray | September 28, 2010

Borrego Solar Systems Moves Into The Future

I recently spoke with Chris Anderson, COO of Borrego Solar Systems, Inc. in the city of Lowell, MA.

I was interested in writing something on Solar because sometimes I think the solar concept lacks attention. And with oil being the way it is – expensive – it would seem as though more people would go the “solar” way.

Solar energy is one of the fastest growing forms of eco-friendly energy in the world today. Along with wind power and hydropower, solar power is a “green” form of renewable energy that is helping to make the earth less dependent on fossil fuels and other forms of polluting energy.

Solar energy is cheaper than many other types of energy, as well as better for the environment. But, only about 1 percent of the people in the United States are using solar panels at this time.

Borrego designs and installs commercial, residential and public sector turnkey, grid-connected solar electric systems. The company is home to a unique prefabrication process enabling Borrego to better control the quality and consistency of its projects while creating a safer work environment by reducing the amount of time its workers spend on clients’ roofs.

“Borrego Solar was founded in 1980 by astrophysicist James Rickard, Ph.D.,” Anderson said. “Dr. Rickard earned his C-46 contracting license in 1982, and the company’s first project was the design and construction of Dr. Rickard’s all-solar home in Borrego Springs, CA. Prior to the establishment of the net metering, Borrego Solar’s primary business was the design and construction of off-grid solar power systems and solar thermal systems. The company transformed with the emergence of the California grid-tied solar market in 1999, and since that time has specialized in grid-tied systems. I co-founded the Northern California branch in 2002 and in 2007 moved to New England with my family, where I co-founded the East Coast Regional Headquarters. New England had a real need for a company with Borrego Solar’s experience.”

Anderson pointed out that Borrego Solar is committed to minimizing its impact on the environment and promoting a safe working environment.

“We try to maximize technology within the company so we can cut down on paperwork and travel,” Anderson said. “We also have an aggressive recycling program at all our offices and a fleet of hybrid cars available for employee use. We source products with these same principles in mind. In New England, for instance, we use a great deal of Evergreen solar modules in our projects because they are produced locally and have the lowest carbon footprint of any manufacturer.”

Anderson explained that the company has invested heavily in building a scalable prefabrication process that allows it to do much of the preparation work at its warehouse in Lowell.

“By working in a controlled environment, this process has allowed us to better control the quality and consistency of our projects while also providing a safer environment for our employees to work,” Anderson said.

“This has also allowed us to be more agile when the weather is uncooperative, something that is especially important considering the unpredictable winters here in New England. Our customers appreciate the fact that this also translates into less time on their roofs – not to mention the cost savings that we can pass on to them using this approach. Our mission is to drive down the cost of installations through innovation in design and construction.”

Anderson cited some of his projects to date.

“This has been an explosive year for us,” Anderson said. “We have several projects under way that exceed 1 megawatt in size and are being constructed under tight time lines. We are perhaps best known in New England for the 100-kilowatt installation we did for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) at its Deer Island facility in Winthrop, MA. This was a high-profile project and one of the biggest in the state at the time it was completed.”