Ty Jagerson, the President of HelioPower, spoke at a recent gathering of the Silicon Valley Photovoltaics Society (SVPVS).

HelioPower installs solar on residential and commercial rooftops, but there's a much bigger story.

The firm is an energy solutions provider working to cut the cost of energy for their clients. And although the firm might have started out as a solar installer, it has morphed into something more resembling an Energy Service Company (ESCO) than a pure PV panel installer.

Jagerson called the firm an "integrated energy solutions" company and says it is committed to solar PV, but it's also open to hybrid systems that use PV, micro-turbines, solar thermal, fuel cells, and energy storage technologies.

HelioPower has completed more than 1,600 solar installations since 2001, mostly in California, where it is one of the top ten installers, according to Jagerson. Commercial customers include Safeway supermarkets and the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. The firm is also able to finance the facility improvements through one of its partners. One of its financial partners is SunRun for residential applications. HelioPower has a fund with Citibank for commercial jobs.

In addition to hardware, HelioPower performs energy audits and engineers energy efficiency measures using their own software, as well as introducing active load management to minimize peak power draw for the customer and create a more predictable grid for the utility.

SolarCity is another example of a solar installer and financier that has moved into energy efficiency businesses.  

HelioPower has a residential as well as a small and large commercial business, and Jagerson seemed intent on keeping active in all of those sectors despite the industry's tendency to move to larger-size installations. Jagerson notes that, as a solar installer, "You have to be part of the community and even more intensely local in the agricultural market."

Jagerson made a few stray observations in the solar vein:

  • $1.40 per watt panel prices are coming this year and $1.25 per watt will be here in 2012
  • Companies to watch in solar are AQT in CIGS photovoltaics and Array Converter in panel electronics. Array Converter is an "inverterless" solar solution currently in semi-stealth.

HelioPower has an archive of energy whitepapers here and a feature on its website called "The Ugly Side of Solar" that highlights some of the less aesthetically pleasing and less energy-efficient installations the firm has encountered. Here are a few sample photos of poorly engineered solar rooftops.

Emphatic note: this is not the work of HelioPower.