A Brighter Future for the Rogue Valley
Imagine a brighter future: solar electricity keeping the lights on, and sustainable practices keeping Southern Oregon beautiful for generations. True South Solar, a residential and commercial solar electricity contractor, serves the Rogue Valley and dreams of seeing solar power everywhere.
Since 2010, when Eric Hansen and Shawn Schreiner founded the company, solar installation in Southern Oregon has become easier—and less expensive. Yet, even as the technology that goes into solar paneling becomes cheaper, True South Solar still believes in quality. To ensure this, the company does everything in-house.
Before True South Solar, the principal owner, Eric Hansen, had experience working with home power and contractors. From his time as a communications student at SOU, he’d been interested in renewable energy—specifically electric. Solar electricity was so expensive though…he figured there had to be a better way to make it accessible.
After partnering with Shawn, starting the business wasn’t as hard as Eric imagined. With guidance and financial insights from the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, the SBDC, and SOREDI, True South Solar’s beginning was pretty painless. Southern Oregon provided a perfect location for the business. With plenty of natural beauty and recreational opportunities, locals were—and still are—responsive to the idea of using renewable energy to preserve the land they love. By managing and interpreting the entire process in-house—from assembly to installation to maintenance—True South Solar is able to reduce expenses, stimulate the local economy, and lessen the overall carbon footprint. “We want to be part of the environmental solution,” says Eric.
As far as new developments in the solar-electric industry go, True South Solar is familiar with changing technology. The equipment needed to create solar panels is becoming less expensive and more common, which means the company can expand their offerings to include battery technology. With light-weight, but power-dense batteries, the panels have an energy back-up should a grid go down. Solar panels are also becoming a more affordable investment, which is an encouraging trend. Most businesses or individuals are able to completely pay off solar paneling within five or six years—which means from there on out, it’s free electricity. And the business or individual gains the bragging right of being innovative and sustainable.
Twenty years ago, there were very few solar panel installations in the valley. Most of those few were simply individuals wanting to live off-grid in the woods. Now though, solar electricity is everywhere—used by individuals and businesses alike. “We have hundreds of happy customers,” Eric says. “And we’re making a dent in getting solar on the grid. That’s how we measure our success.” Happy customers include commercial businesses like Rogue Creamery, The Modern Fan Co., Mt. Ashland Ski Resort, the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, and plenty of individual families around the valley.
So, attention aspiring environmentalists and electricians: True South Solar hires employees who display a high level of integrity and work ethic, and those who are willing to learn and earn licenses through apprenticeships. Around half of the staff have electrical licenses—or are in the process of earning them. The other half have degrees; there are jobs for everyone. Though not a large staff—currently twenty employees—True South Solar has expanded significantly and will be poised to grow more as demand increases. Reliable workers who care about sustainability are always necessary.
“We’ve done about seven-hundred installations…and with every situation we can see we’re making a difference,” says Eric. The company collaborates with local builders to install the solar paneling, and serves the community in other ways as well. For instance, True South Solar volunteers their services to non-profits such as the Ashland Food Bank and the local schools in Ashland. With no more electric bills sent off to a power company somewhere else in the nation, the food bank and the schools have extra funds to put back into the local economy through food and supply purchases made in Southern Oregon. Not to mention that the solar panels save electricity and help the community be a little bit greener.
And what’s the endgame for True South Solar? According to Eric, “We want to have the entire valley produce more solar energy than we can consume. We want to work ourselves out of business.”
True South Solar | 125 Clear Creek Dr., Ashland, OR 97520 | www.truesouthsolar.net | 800-947-1187