Park City roofers power up for leap into solar panel technology
Dave Gebo and Ben Russell have been waiting.
The owners of the Park City-based roofing company On Top Roofing, they sent an employee to Colorado for training in solar paneling nearly a decade ago. Ever since, they have been intently watching the progress of the technology and its associated costs.
At last, they say, it’s the right time to leap in. Gebo and Russell, along with business partner Steve Miles, have opened a new company called On Top Solar and Electric, specializing in installing solar panels on homes and businesses as well as electrical work such as installing heated panel systems.
"This is something we’ve been getting ready for a long time," Russell said. "The cost of it 10 years ago didn’t make sense, but now it does make sense for normal people."
One of the primary allures of solar paneling for owners of homes or businesses is cost, Gebo said. Depending on how many solar panels are installed at a home or business — and thus how much solar energy is produced — owners can generate enough power to cover their electric bills.
"It can completely eliminate your power bill and save you a lot of money in the longterm," Russell said.
At current energy costs, it takes roughly eight to 10 years to recover the costs of the panels, he added. Additionally, having solar power is a way for people to insulate themselves if energy costs rise, Gebo said.
"The big thing is electricity is still relatively cheap here in Utah, compared to California and other states," he said. "But how long is it going to be cheap? If you put a solar system in, you fix your electric costs. If we do have an increase in power costs, you won’t be affected. It makes a lot of sense.
"And as the costs of the panels and the systems continue to go down and electrical costs go up, we’re going to continue to see people breaking even faster," he added.
The federal government doling out tax credits equal to 30 percent of the cost of the solar panels to those who install them at their homes through at least 2016 makes it an even sweeter deal for the pocketbook, Gebo said. But in addition to the financial aspects of solar paneling, the technology has the potential to play a role in helping the environment.
"We need to slow this global warming down," Gebo said. "And if we can start getting solar systems and power on all the houses across the country, that would be a big step. If you look at other countries throughout Europe, they’re running 30 or 40 percent on solar power. We’re (much lower) in this country."
According to Gebo, fears about the process of installing solar panels should not hold back owners of businesses or homes from exploring their options. The company offers free audits and aims to make everything painless from the start.
"We just need to meet with the homeowner and get their electrical bill," Gebo said. "Then we can run calculations on kilowatt-hours needed and design a system for them. It’s easy."
The years of roofing experience between Gebo and Russell have helped get On Top Solar and Electric off the ground, Gebo said. In many ways, it’s a natural fit for both of them.
"It makes sense for people with a roofing background to get involved in solar because of the way we rack the solar rays and are able to have licensed electricians on the roof that also have roofing experience," he said. "They can make sure the installation is done properly from a watertight standpoint."
From Gebo and Russell’s perspective, another benefit of opening the new company is having licensed electricians in the fold. When On Top Roofing installed heat cables on roofs in the past, the company had to bring in electricians as subcontractors to oversee the installation. Now, On Top Solar and Electric can handle the entire task.
"It got very old over the last 10 years, having to have someone else come in," Gebo said. "Now we have very experienced roofers that have electrical licenses. It makes a lot more sense for us. It’s nice to be able to do that in-house."
On Top Solar and Electric
155 Aspen Drive
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