- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: James Logan
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In California and the surrounding states, a year-old solar company is bringing big energy savings to big buildings. PCS Energy is leading the way for large multifamily and commercial solar projects. Based in Los Angeles, PCS Energy provides integrated solar solutions, including consulting, products and installation, to a range of longstanding customers drawn from the company’s history in the real estate development market.
Liz Goldman serves as vice president and works alongside a strong leadership team that includes Paul Jennings, Joseph Pekarovic and Joseph Fryzer, company principals; as well as Steve Heiney, project manager and vice president of development and Zach Jennings, head of the company’s LED lighting division. PCS Energy also relies on strong relationships with strategic partners and subcontractors to provide turnkey solar solutions in Southern California.
“We got into solar because we are owners of multifamily apartment buildings,” explains Goldman. “We formed a solar energy company because we were putting solar on all our apartment buildings. We saw what a great business model it was and hence PCS Energy was created. Because of the colleagues and contacts we had made over the years through PCS Development, we already had a steady supply of clients. They would come to us and say, ‘How do we get solar on our buildings?'”
Integrated solar solutions
With PCS Energy, the answer to that question is simple: Joseph Pekarovic and Steve Heiney guide clients through the process, which can be arduous for the uninitiated. “We do the coordination with the engineers, who design the solar systems, handle the project management and are actively involved in each aspect and phase of the job until completed and the system is commissioned. We work with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) on rebates and all electrical inspections,” notes Goldman. “The solar process is very involved, which is why a lot of other solar installers and companies don’t like to take it on. We have a great relationship with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as well as the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, so we have been able to get projects completed and put through without a lot of problems.”
Installing large solar setups does not come without challenges. Issues will occasionally come up because of the size of a system, or older panels and switchgears need to be upgraded, or a transformer can’t handle the AC power coming in from solar. “We’ve had to do workarounds, but we work closely with our installation contractors, LADBS and LADWP, and together we always find a solution,” says Goldman.
Adopting solar energy can be daunting, especially because the upfront investment is massive. “We help our customers take advantage of the 30 percent investment tax credit with accelerated depreciation and any utility rebates that are available, which makes it a win-win situation for the owner,” adds Goldman. “We also offer financing and our customers see a real payback of 2.5 years or less.”
Making it worthwhile
One of PCS Energy’s primary goals is to ensure that customers end up with a solar power system that meets the needs of their facilities and operations. The process includes a full energy audit to analyze consumption from power bills and determine other areas where energy usage could be cut back.
For example, the company’s LED lighting division, led by Jennings, designs LED lighting programs for customers to help reduce power use and then designs the solar system to meet the future energy needs of the building.
“It is possible to over-panel a building,” Goldman explains. “There’s no benefit to that. LED lighting can reduce the number of panels needed, which saves our clients money, but other solar companies often install products that overproduce. Most of our customers are in LADWP territory and can’t sell that energy back to the grid. If you’ve over-paneled, you’re losing that energy straight out.”
An important aspect of designing custom solar programs for customers is flexibility. PCS Energy is not tied into contracts with suppliers, meaning the business can select the most efficient panels and inverters. “Technology is evolving continually,” Goldman adds. “We are not tied into one manufacturer because it changes so quickly. We will look at anything that produces the best results for our customers and creates the most efficiency within panels and inverters.”
Putting panels to work
PC Energy has coordinated a number of large, high-profile solar projects throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Customers have come to know the business for its reliability, efficiency and expertise. As project manager, Heiney leads the way on these diverse and complex installations. Each project has its challenges – some more than others.
“The Woodcliff is probably the most challenging we’ve done just because they have so many two-story units and parapets on the roof,” says Goldman. “It’s not a clean straight flat roof like so many buildings that are much easier to do. Newer buildings have parapets, townhouse-level apartments coming up from the roof, air conditioning equipment and other obstacles. The Woodcliff was an extreme challenge for us, but we were able to get 962 panels on that roof.”
While large multifamily housing is still the mainstay of the business, PCS Energy has branched out in recent years. The company’s portfolio includes industrial warehouses, hotels, retail shopping centers and more. This breadth of capabilities will continue to expand as the business grows.
In the commercial market, PCS Energy continues to deliver quality solar solutions while reducing energy use, lowering costs and improving property values in Southern California.
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