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Radiance Solar

PEOPLE, PLANET & PROFIT The Atlanta-based turnkey solar company of Radiance Solar is committed to designing, developing and installing solar systems throughout the southeast; and in just two short years, CEO and founder James Marlow, has created a company with a three-fold focus: people, planet, and profits.

ENERGY LEADERS TODAY T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R C A P TA I N S O F I N D U S T RY

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A Radian future for So ar by Juan Stewart

Radiance Solar, an Atlanta-based turnkey solar company is committed to designing, developing and installing solar systems across the state of Georgia and the southeast. Since its inception in 2008, James Marlow, founder and CEO, has devoted much of his energy to building Radiance Solar’s three-fold focus: people, planet, and profits. These three words are the basis of the company and the focus of Marlow’s vision for Radiance Solar. Marlow has been interested in solar since he was in high school, yet this former candidate for the U.S. Congress didn’t decide to pursue the a career in the solar industry fulltime until 2008 and he admits that he wished he had decided to focus solely on solar a lot quicker than he did. A challenge that he had with Radiance Solar was truly defining the business, because they wanted to do wind, solar and geothermal. But as a small startup, Marlow knew the importance of having an effective market entry strategy and wanted the company to have a clear niche and focus. “Although the company wrestled with the direction it would take during its early days,” he said, “We had to make a strategic decision and when it came down to it, when we (Radiance Solar) wake up in the morning, we are thinking about solar.” THIS PAGE & NEXT: Clements and Sweet Law Firm, Atlanta, Ga. John and Midge Sweet partnered with Radiance Solar to build one of Downtown Atlanta’s first solar PV systems. As one of the first law firms in Georgia to adopt renewable energy, the Sweets will realize substantial energy savings and will be able to promote the firm’s sustainability by reducing their environmental footprint with this 10kW SunPower solar PV array system. The Sweets are lifelong environmental leaders and are working to stop coal plant expansion in the southeast. The League of Conservation Voters is located in their building.

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At Radiance Solar, we have high standards for aesthetics and functionality. We really want the systems to look elegant and well integrated in the home or business of our client. James Marlow Radiance Solar Founder & CEO Radiance does both solar PV as well as solar thermal, but due to the cost drop of solar panels and the significantly improved return on investment, Marlow said that Radiance Solar customers are demanding more PV installations right now then they are solar thermal. In addition to the drop in price, Marlow attributes the decline of solar thermal demand to the drop in price of natural gas which he said “lengthened the payback on solar thermal projects.” Marlow’s primary role in day-to-day activities includes sales and marketing. He lobbies for the energy industry in Georgia, while Jamie Porges, Radiance’s COO manages the installation, construction and operations. Marlow enjoys being out on the roof, but these days the demands of the office do not allow him to be out with the installation crews as much as he would like. Despite tumultuous economic times, Radiance Solar has come out on top celebrating is third year anniversary by embracing a backlog of over 30 projects. As far as residential installations go, most systems are around six kW. There are a few crucial steps that Radiance Solar takes before installation. Understanding the clients’ goals is probably the most important. Then, the company can determine what the costs and investment will be. They also use satellite images and conduct a site visit to determine topographic conditions, such as how much shade there is on the site. Finally they prepare a preliminary proposal for the client and draft a contract. “At Radiance Solar we have high standards for aesthetics and functionality,” Marlow said. We really want the systems to look

STITES & HARBISON, PLLC Stites & Harbison, PLLC (Stites) is a preeminent law firm based in strategic southeastern locations and sought by business and institutional clients nationwide for sophisticated transactions, difficult litigation and complex regulatory matters. In addition to providing traditional legal services, Stites recognizes the importance of renewable energy and sustainability. In response, Stites developed a Sustainability & Emerging Technologies (SET) Group that takes a multi-disciplinary approach to provide legal services to the renewable energy and sustainability industries. To this end, Stites has assembled a team that offers diverse backgrounds, expertise and perspectives on the renewable energy industry. Stites draws on its SET Group to provide legal service to emerging solar companies such as Radiance Solar. In that regard, Radiance Solar can depend on Stites to provide responsive and high-quality legal services for both general business and finance needs as well as issues unique to solar companies. Specifically, SET has assisted Radiance with regard to financing transactions and in structuring solar panel projects. Stites recognizes the importance of contributing to the renewable energy and sustainability fields. The firm provides volunteer services and financial backing to several groups active in the renewable energy and sustainably fields, such as the USGBC and GSEA


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elegant and well integrated in the home or business of our client. We want to determine the best products, panels, mounting systems, monitoring systems, screws, etc. to make sure that the project stands the test of time, lasting over 25 years. Solar panel technology is over 50 years old, and they are made to last.” Compared to larger companies, Radiance Solar is focused on the southeastern U.S., and they partner with larger companies so there is no direct competition for larger projects outside the area. They maintain great working relationships with larger firms. With a focus on state-of-the-art and worldclass installations Radiance has some impressive projects under its belt. Partnering with national solar panel manufacturers SunPower and Suniva, the company has seen exponential growth each year of operation. “We are currently completing a project that is one of the most advanced and largest commercial rooftop retail mixed use buildings in Georgia,” Marlow said. “East Decatur Station includes a 147 kilowatt PV system.” The company also completed the largest solar hot water system project in the state at the Manheim Auto Auction. Residentially they completed a model home at the Serenbe Community. Radiance Solar is also completing a project at the new student center on the Georgia Tech campus that will include solar hot water and solar PV. Although Georgia is in the heart of the southeastern U.S., it is not one of the leaders in what can be described as a solar epidemic. Marlow sees this as a problem that will have to be fixed by the politicians in Washington and in state capitals. “Some things that could speed up the industry include a national renewable/clean energy standard,” Marlow said. “As of now, 29 states have laws that require utilities to purchase a certain percentage of their energy as clean energy, and Radiance would like the number to expand to all 50 states.” Marlow continued, saying that the company would like to have power purchase agreements across 50 states and that as of now, only about 20 states allow it. “Radiance is also pushing for national consistency in rebate incentives,” he said. “It THIS PAGE: Persimmon Creek Vineyards, Rabun County, Ga. Co-owners Mary Ann and William “Sonny” Hardman partnered with Atlanta-based Radiance Solar to install an eight-kilowatt solar system on the roof of their winery. Persimmon Creek is the first Georgia vineyard to make an investment in solar energy, and one of the very few in the southeast to incorporate renewable energy into a vineyard’s operations. OPPOSITE PAGE: Cox Enterprises Manheim Water Conservation Center, Atlanta, Ga. The Cox 40 collector AET System with 2,000 gallons of storage is the Georgia’s largest commercial solar hot water system at the Manheim facility in Atlanta. The system offsets more than 50 percent of the facility’s hot water heating needs and reduces Manheim’s environmental impact. The Manheim system is an example of the type of best-in-class installation that Radiance Solar’s customers can expect.

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will allow for better business planning and increase overall sales. North Carolina has a better incentive than Georgia. Alabama has no incentive at all. These situations need to be eliminated with nationwide standards.” The U.S. Solar Institute highlights a need for solar installers across the board, there are a plethora in California and Colorado, fewer on the East Coast. As Radiance Solar hires new people that are less experienced with solar, the company plans to have an intensive training plan and a mentoring program to ensure that they are well trained, safe, and using best practices. “We have employees with experience working around the globe. Taylor Hollis, the lead designer and energy engineer, has worked on projects in Portugal and California. And Danny Rubin, the project manager worked in Colorado. The electrical team has worked on hundreds of projects across the southeast.” For educational purposes, they support NABSEP as the current standard for training in solar certification, and the company takes advantage of local training programs to ensure their staff is qualified and knowledgeable in their area of work. As Radiance continues to grow, there will be ongoing training programs. The personnel management of Radiance Solar includes a business development and marketing team as well as an installation team. “Typically employees enter the company being more talented in one area than another,” Marlow said. “We provide them with the tools they need to follow their passions and pursue their specialty.” Room for growth for the employees is available, each person that worked in the introductory stages now has ownership in the company, they have become a trusted source for solar. The company is very profitable. Marlow predicts there will be around a 20 percent annual decrease in the cost of installations over the next couple years. With the panels already seeing a decrease in price, he predicts the solar industry will follow similar trend pattern as the personal computer, flat panel televisions and cell phones soon becoming standard within the energy industry. Whether this prediction holds true or not, Radiance Solar is a company built on a strong foundation and has leader with the knowhow and work ethic to make sure it succeeds. ELT

THIS PAGE: Solar installation for The Nest at Serenbe, an energy-efficient EarthCraft model home. It is currently serving as a laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program. The Nest’s first model home is providing data on the cost savings and energy efficiency resulting from its next-level environmental measures which includes a solar PV array installed by Radiance Solar.

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Radiance Solar  

The Atlanta-based turnkey solar company of Radiance Solar is committed to designing, developing and installing solar systems throughout the...

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