After working for PRC Engineering during the seventies in Saudi Arabia, Patrick Redgate returned to Southern California with a new purpose in mind: energy independence. Realizing that we could not rely on fossil fuels forever, he pledged to dedicate his life to spreading the solar energy “gospel” throughout Southern California. After an internship at Alternative Energy Systems (AES), he joined Link (& Sun) Solar, becoming owner and later President & CEO. The name was changed to AMECO Solar, Inc., a company whose customer list dates back to 1974, when Gerald Ford was the President.
Since our founding, we have installed solar hot water systems and solar pool heaters. Often referred to as solar thermal, these systems allowed our customers to heat their water with solar energy instead of gas or electricity whether for use in their home or business or to heat a pool. In the beginning we actually made our own solar panels, some of which are still operable. Though we eventually partnered with many different solar manufacturing companies, we always chose products that made sense to us.
The Solar Rise (and Fall) of the 1980s
As the efficiency of solar thermal panels improved, the cost began to come down. Then, in 1978, Congress passed the Energy Tax Act giving homeowners a $2,000 tax credit for installing a solar system on their rooftops, which was later expanded. The State of California added a credit to the Federal incentive, and utilities were instructed to provide rebates to willing early adopters. This led to a surge of interest in solar panels during the 1980s and AMECO added two offices to its original location in the Long Beach area.
At this time, there were over 50,000 Californians employed by solar companies. The incentives were all phased out by January 1st, 1986. When the dust settled, only 2,000 solar professionals remained employed statewide.
Solar Rebates and Incentives Spur Growth in the 90s
Two seminal solar events occurred in the late 1990s: a bill was passed creating incentives for grid-tied solar PV systems in California and the Emerging Renewables Program (ERP) was created. Rebates and a modest State Tax Credit helped reduce the cost of going solar and the program launched raising awareness about solar energy on a national scale.
Also, as part of utility deregulation, Net Metering for Renewable Energy (RE) was permitted giving solar panels owners the option to feed energy back to the utility’s grid and potentially receive credit for over-production. This made the installation of solar PV (electric) not only viable but also eliminated many technical barriers to grid-tied renewable electricity.
The Last Ten Years and Beyond
As funding for the ERP dwindled and the State Tax Credit eliminated, The Governor and state legislators created the California Solar Initiative (CSI) in 2007. By offering Californians incentives for their solar systems whose funding was predictable and long term, the original goal to install 1,940 megawatts of new solar generation capacity by 2017 will be easily accomplished, and once again over 50,000 (and counting) Californians are employed doing their best to make our economy and environment more healthy. Simultaneously, the market became flooded with solar manufacturers, a few domestic but mostly foreign companies, driving the price of solar panels down even more.
Now that cost of solar panels had become so low and there were significant rebates and incentives available, solar systems became a financially viable option for many people and AMECO helped even more customers go solar. For the third time in ten years, AMECO outgrew its offices and warehouse, and moved to our current location in Paramount, where we have been based since 2008.
Now that it is 2014, AMECO is celebrating our 40th Anniversary. Though so much has changed since 1974, our company still remains committed to promoting solar energy as a way to establish energy independence and work towards a brighter, sustainable future. We look forward to another 40 years of helping Southern Californians go solar!
Choose Experience When You Choose AMECO
With so many years of experience, it’s clear why AMECO is the solar expert of Southern California. Request a solar evaluation with one of our experts to learn how a solar system can save you money while also saving the earth.