A Vivint Solar technician at work. Image courtesy of Vivint Solar.

With an estimated 80 days of sunlight, residents in the mostly overcast city of Pittsburgh often doubt their capacity to power their homes on solar energy. Now one company has moved in to show consumers that solar truly is an option for them.

Vivint Solar, a company based out of Utah, has officially expanded its residential rooftop solar energy systems into Pittsburgh. Founded in 2011, the company currently operates in 20 states and claims to have completed more than 100,000 installations.

Customers can purchase Vivint systems outright with cash or a home equity line of credit, or through one of the company’s loan options. Once installed, Vivint claims that customers see an immediate average savings of 10-30 percent per month on home energy costs.

Vivint already services two other Pennsylvania cities, Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

While Pittsburgh has been slow to adopt renewable energy solutions, Vivint COO, Bryan Christiansen, has noticed an uptick in the city’s demand for solar.

“We actually see strong evidence that people are buying more solar,” says Christiansen. “We believe that people in Pittsburgh want it.”

He cites a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration that said renewable energy accounted for four percent of Pennsylvania’s net electricity generation in 2016. He adds that Pittsburgh also saw a spike in customers buying small-scale photovoltaic solar systems for their homes or businesses.

The numbers fit with national trends where, over the last decade, cities have invested in solar as it has become more affordable and easier to install. A report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that the cost of solar power dropped by 70 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Christiansen says that while Pittsburgh looks like a promising potential market, the company still foresees having to educate reluctant consumers on the benefits and availability of solar.

“With Pittsburgh, I think the challenge will be in helping people understand that there are options and that they are now able to take advantage of clean, green energy,” he says.

They plan on reaching out to the public via a door-to-door sales force tasked with promoting the company and answering any questions people may have.

Battery by Vivint Solar and Mercedes-Benz Energy. Image courtesy of Vivint Energy.

Besides trying to make installation more affordable, Vivint has also played a role in improving solar technology. Last May, the company partnered with Mercedes-Benz Energy to develop a compact battery about the size of a mini-fridge that allows homeowners to better store the energy produced by their solar power systems. Set to debut in California, it will mark the first time Vivint has ever paired a battery storage offering with their solar systems.

The move will also enable Vivint to go head-to-head with competitors like Tesla, the green technology and car company that recently acquired SolarCity, another solar installation company that moved into Pittsburgh last year.

Interested in a home solar system? Visit Vivint for a free estimate.

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 to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.