Case Studies

C-TEC Solar LLC

Lighting the way in the Connecticut solar market

C-TEC Solar LLC is a residential and commercial solar solutions company providing full turnkey service to customers throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Based in Bloomfield, Connecticut, C-TEC was founded in 2009 as a partnership with Bristol Solar, a small operation led by a forerunner in the state’s solar market. “He was basically known as the solar guy in Connecticut; he spent 30 years building the panels and everything himself,” says C-TEC founder Mickey Toro. “He’s no longer part of the organization, but was an integral part of it in the beginning.”

C-TEC Solar LLC

Originally established with a focus on solar thermal applications in the residential and commercial markets, C-TEC made a strong showing out of the gate, completing some of the largest solar thermal projects in the state’s history.

The company made a major pivot in 2012 when C-TEC switched its focus to the photovoltaic side of the solar market. 100 percent of the company’s business now comes from the commercial and residential photovoltaic markets; an area where C-TEC has rapidly developed a niche over the last three years.

Building a brighter future

As one of the state’s premier solar solution providers, C-TEC has completed a number of marquee projects over the last six years. Toro cites one recent project for a Massachusetts municipal utility as unique in both its design and use. The effort saw C-TEC install photovoltaic panels on a 4-acre, city-owned roof, allowing the municipal utility to generate more than one megawatt of electricity.

“Instead of using nuclear or natural gas, the utility is now using a large project built by us to create energy that can be sold back to the residents,” Toro says.

On the residential side of the business, C-TEC is very involved with the Solarize program; a nationwide effort designed to drive the use of photovoltaic energy systems. Beginning as a grassroots campaign in a single Portland, Oregon, neighborhood, the Solarize campaign has since spread across the country, garnering support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Communities program and providing community organizing, technical assistance, project management advice and rebates.

“It’s designed to get residential solar growth happening in a very rapid and efficient way for homeowners. We’ve been a prominent part of that and it’s been very rewarding,” says Toro.

C-TEC has developed a niche in working with local schools to help them cut down on energy costs; an especially vital cost-savings in the temperate Northeast. “It’s always nice to be able to contribute to the sustainability of public schools,” Toro says.

There are a number of large projects in C-TEC’s near future, including another one megawatt project on the roof of the company’s own headquarters in Bloomfield. “It’s for our landlords and is a little bigger than the one we did for the municipality,” says Toro. “It’s pretty neat that it’s on our own office.”

C-TEC is also preparing a number of large, ground-mounted projects that will dwarf any installation the company has undertaken to date. The 8 acre and 15-acre efforts are being completed as part of Connecticut’s virtual net metering program. “We are one of the first to be involved in this new program,” Toro says.

Here comes the sun

Today, C-TEC’s 40 employees serve customers throughout Connecticut and into Massachusetts with an office in Boston. Toro is always on the hunt to add more like-minded employees to the roster. “We’re a company full of passionate, energetic folks who are excited to be involved in something environmentally friendly with lots of levels of meaning,” he says.

Toro, a self-described entrepreneur, entered the solar industry in 2009 with the formation of C-TEC, but many of the company’s employees boast 10 to 15-year tenures in the trade. “I just thought it was a good opportunity and having the fulfillment of saving the world is always a nice motivation,” he says.

C-TEC self-performs 80 percent of its work, only subbing out duties to a trusted network of subs when the company is over capacity. While the company has developed a refined roster of subcontractors over the years, C-TEC is now on the hunt to add to that list as it eyes the ambitious growth goal of becoming a $100 million company within the next few years. “We’re in growth mode right now, so we’re in the process of building relationships with new folks,” he says.

The founder sees government policy as the biggest threat to C-TEC’s growth aims. “Policy is a big part of what we do and is a driving force in our model,” says Toro. “There hasn’t been anything too disruptive so far, and that was set to change in 2017, but the federal government actually extended to program for five more years.”

The program grants residential and commercial customers a 30 percent tax credit on solar systems and has helped to raise annual solar installation by over 1,600 percent since its inception in 2006. While the end of the ITC looms large, Toro takes solace in the fact that, regardless of whether or not C-TEC reaches its short-term goals for growth, the company is having a positive impact on the nation’s environmental and economic atmospheres. “Statistics will show you that our industry is actually a very important part of recovery and hopefully people who make policy agree with that,” says Toro.

“If you look at number of jobs the industry has created over last five years, it’s probably in the top percentile of business and job growth in the country and we can be a big help if it continues that way,” he says.

Toro says C-TEC will meet its ambitious growth goals by expanding into four or five new markets in the Northeast over the next few years. A growing footprint and ever-expanding in-house expertise has positioned C-TEC Solar as a leader in the Connecticut and Massachusetts photovoltaic solar solutions markets.

Published on: August 2, 2016

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