True South Solar founder & co-owner, Eric Hansen, started his career with an electrical apprenticeship after receiving a communications degree from SOU. They started back in 2010 with only two people after he earned his solar-electricians license and saw a need in the market for a full-service solar design/build firm. Since 2010 the business has grown to 10 full time employees, with three of them being SOU graduates. They offer their employees living wages, health care, retirement, and are a family driven organization. Their culture includes a “6 inch powder clause” which allows company employees to ditch work and hit the slopes when Mt. Ashland has 6 inches or more new snow.
They practice what they preach! Their office is solar-powered in a net-zero building on Hersey Street. The sales fleet is led by a solar-powered electric Smart car and some employees ride bikes to work. You might even see Eric commuting to appointments around town on his electric bike.
Their projects span from the largest solar-electric system in Southern Oregon, the Darex building in Ashland, to small community projects like a community garden off of Fordyce St. and at Helman Elementary School.
The solar industry is constantly changing. Prices have dropped 50% in the last five years and they are working with legislation to expand incentives throughout their markets. Currently, most of the solar incentives are aimed at residential systems. New legislation could open up opportunities for businesses and non-profits. Stay tuned...
Being in Ashland has helped True South Solar thrive. Eric finds that people in Ashland support solar, their values align with both technology and the environment. The business community has a good vision for the future and they make business decisions based on those future values. There is also a labor pool of talented people in their industry in Ashland. Ashland is a great place to work and live from the school district to the amenities, it’s a great place to have a business.
The future for True South Solar and the entire solar industry is exciting. As technology advances and develops they are looking at more electric cars fueled by solar and more homes and businesses producing more solar electricity than they are actually using. Their company is a model business in the Ashland community. They provide living wage jobs to their staff and are community oriented.
For Ashland businesses seeking more sustainable practices, the Conservation Division offers Commercial Efficiency Programs that provide industry specific rebates including lighting, solar and commercial kitchen installations. They also offer hardware for businesses to reduce water consumption for low flow faucets, shower heads, toilets and irrigation systems. From Solar Electric (PV) Incentive Programs to Renewable Pioneers Green Tag program (www.greenashland.org), the members of the City of Ashland’s Conservation Division are indeed stewards of Ashland and invite you to engage in their programs.