Contractor’s Corner: Aurora Energy

Aurora Energy has made a name for itself in the Washington, DC area as a high-risk, forward-thinking solar installer. The company has evolved over the past three decades and sees its specialty in commercial projects that may require a bit of customization.

In this episode of the Contractor’s Corner podcast, Cord Briggs, director of Aurora Energy’s DC office, talks about the company’s desire to take care of its customers seeking all the financial and environmental benefits that come with installing solar. This has led Aurora Energy to expand into community solar and take on more unique projects such as green roofs.

Part of the interview is below, but be sure to listen to the full podcast for even more insight, including how the latest battle over solar tariff expansion is already impacting supply.

Find the Contractor’s Corner podcast on your favorite podcast app.

Aurora Energy has been around since 1994. Why did the company decide to focus solely on commercial solar energy in 2016?

We saw the developing market. Many players entered the living space who had a different model than Aurora Energy. We’ve always been a somewhat small company, focused only on the DC, Maryland and Virginia region. We didn’t just want to compete at scale and do thousands of projects. We really wanted to provide customers with the best solution and we are excited about the commercial space. It is still one of the most deprived spaces in the PV industry. We wanted to focus on quality and tackle that underserved market.

Aurora Energy completed an interesting installation at United Therapeutics in Silver Spring, Maryland. It is a 1 MW project spread over roofs, carports and even on the facade. How did Aurora get involved in this project?

Installation Aurora Energy at United Therapeutics. Photo courtesy of Ewing Cole

It was a quote from the main contractor. Not many solar companies lined up to throw in their hats. It was a very challenging project that required a lot of custom engineering. Few solar projects require the amount of customization and integration with different professions that we had to put together to execute these types of projects. We are really proud. It’s in the center of Silver Spring, and it’s a very eye-catching installation.

What does the commercial energy storage market look like in your region?

It doesn’t really exist. It saddens me to say that. I’ve had some clients who have been really excited about it, and the problem really comes down to commercial buildings having a lot of load, and to be economically able to support that load for resilient purposes – we’re now going to lose every time to a generator. The incentives just aren’t high enough to close that gap. We’d love to see the ability to play around with usage time rates and call charges, but I haven’t seen the use case yet for clients we work with. The Atlantic area here is still quite low in terms of total installed solar capacity. So it’s not really a burning need, but as more solar is installed it will be something policymakers really need to consider.

Installation Aurora Energy at United Therapeutics. Photo courtesy of Ewing Cole

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