by Jacob Kirn Digital Producer-St. Louis Business Journal
Even with Missouri’s solar industry in jeopardy, St. Louis-based Microgrid Solar is planning to expand in a big way.
The company, run by CEO Rick Hunter, plans to ramp up its energy-efficiency business, open new offices across the country and tackle larger solar projects for military and government clients. It even started installation Tuesday on roughly 100 solar panels at Rams Park in Bridgeton.
But much of that growth will be outside Microgrid’s home state, where it has an office in Clayton and in Earth City.
Missouri’s solar photovoltaic rebate program, authorized by Proposition C in 2008, requires utilities to offer customers a $2-a-watt rebate with a maximum rebate of $50,000. But Ameren Missouri, citing a jump in rebate applications, said the rebate will increase the cost of complying with a state law that says the renewable energy requirement cannot raise energy rates more than 1 percent above what they’d otherwise be.
The Public Service Commission, in response, placed caps on how much investor-owned utilities can pay in solar rebates.
Ameren Missouri’s cap could not immediately be confirmed, but Hunter said that without intervening legislation, rebate money would run out before the end of January.
Even so, “business was definitely ramping up even before the concerns about the rebate going away,” Hunter said. “I think we hit somewhat of a tipping point this year.”
Revenue for 2013, which in June Hunter predicted would be $21.6 million, will now exceed $42 million, he said.
The company has 65 employees, up from 41 in June. And it now has more than 200 commercial projects in various stages.
Microgrid will stay in Missouri even after the rebate ceases, Hunter said. It will focus on energy efficiency services, its original focus.
“Originally we were doing as much on energy efficiency as on renewable energy,” Hunter said. “We’ll have to shift back (in Missouri).”
Outside of the state, Mircrogrid will open two offices on the east coast, one in the north and one in the south. Hunter declined to say where the offices would be, but said one would open in the first quarter of next year. The others will open over a two year period.
“The markets we’re moving into are growing as much as St. Louis (in solar photovoltaic),” Hunter said, adding that revenues will continue to increase for years to come.
Here are some projects Microgrid is working on or has completed:
- Sigma Aldrich
- Clayton School District
- Francis Howell School District
- Holiday Inn
- Washington University
- Saint Louis University
- University of Missouri-St. Louis
- Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School
- St. Louis Science Center
- St. Louis Rams—Rams Park
- Express Scripts
- U.S. Bank
- Enterprise Holdings
Source: St. Louis Business Journal