SolarCity

SolarCity, a national leader in residential solar panel installations, will bring clean energy and jobs to the Pittsburgh region with the opening of a new operations center.

SolarCity employees recently joined state and local officials for the opening of the company’s new operations center in Emsworth. Located in a former steel plating facility, the 18,000-square-foot space will house locally hired sales and installation teams, as well as a storage unit for panels and supplies.

The move comes seven months after the California-based company first announced plans to expand in the area. The new facility is SolarCity’s third operations center in the state, along with ones in Norristown and Lancaster.

“This area hasn’t seen a lot of solar, but there are a lot of people interested,” says Lee Keshishian, regional vice president of SolarCity’s East Coast operations. “Our ability to offer a system that can save you money from day one is very appealing to people.”

SolarCity offers panel installations to homeowners with no upfront cost, and with production guarantee, monitoring and repair service included. The company boasts that solar customers pay as much as 20 percent less than they pay for utility power. They also offer solar to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as commercial and municipal customers in Pennsylvania.

Though he couldn’t reveal an exact number, Keshishian says they have completed a couple hundred solar panel installations in the area. He adds that SolarCity currently services Duquesne Power and has plans to work with West Penn Power.

The company’s expansion also comes during an opportune time. The Emsworth operations center opened just days after the state government vowed to increase Pennsylvania’s solar capabilities. On November 2, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future, a statewide planning project to put Pennsylvania in a better position to produce more solar energy and increase solar-generated in-state electricity sales to at least 10 percent by 2030.

In a statement, Wolf called the project “an important step forward for us to better understand how we can increase Pennsylvania’s solar footprint long-term, which will provide more options for consumers and decrease emissions.” He adds that the switch to alternative energy like solar would help decrease the impact of climate change on everything from air quality to agriculture.

Besides helping to reduce carbon emissions and lower energy costs, SolarCity will also provide jobs to the region. So far, the company has hired around 100 people in the area, a larger number than the 75 job openings that were projected last April. In total, the company plans to hire around 125 people to fill various positions in sales, installations and other areas.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated...