Project News

California Solar Electric Company in Grass Valley is installing 37.6 kW of solar power at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City. California Solar is installing the system using SunPower’s 470 watt panels, which utilize the latest and most efficient technology in the industry.

Due to their high efficiency,  California Solar is able to install the entire system on the most efficient, south facing roof spaces hidden from the street, preserving the historical character of both the Miners Foundry and Nevada City.

“We see going solar as an extension of our legacy and commitment to innovation, sustainability, environment, and our community,” Gretchen Bond, the executive director of the Miners Foundry said.

For nearly 160 years, the Miners Foundry has been the hub of innovation, arts and culture in Nevada County. Now the Foundry serves as a cultural arts and community events center. The installation of solar will help the Miners Foundry save the money needed to make necessary updates to their historic facility.

“In the next phase we plan to replace the old boiler with a state of the art heating, ventilation and air condition unit,” Bond said. “Solar will help us offset these expenses of heating and cooling our 9,000-square-foot facility. Without solar we would have a difficult time implementing these updates that will positively affect our business and our patrons experiences.”

An additional benefit to the Foundry, and other nonprofits, is a new source of special financing offered through California Solar.

“It’s zero dollars down, with fixed monthly payments that are less than the PG&E bills we are eliminating,” said Martin Webb, manager of commercial sales for California Solar. “This allows the Foundry to save money right away and invest the savings elsewhere.”

When completed, the solar system will be the largest solar installation in the downtown historic district. The SunPower solar system has a life expectancy of over 40 years and will deliver over 58,000 kilowatt hours in the first year. By producing 90 percent of its power onsite, and with the special financing offered through California Solar, the Miners Foundry will save more than $235,000 over the next 20 years, followed by even more substantial savings in subsequent years.

“We’ve installed roughly 100,000 watts of solar in downtown Nevada City, including the top of City Hall and the Masonic Lodge, with all of it invisible to the eye from the sidewalks and streets,” said Webb. “This system for the Foundry continues the trend of meeting the city’s demands for new, clean energy sources without compromising the downtown historical experience.”

“We are proud of the vision, leadership, and commitment our local government has shown in transitioning Nevada City’s electricity to be entirely from renewable sources by 2030 and all energy sources will be renewable by 2050,” Bond said. “It shows true responsibility and passion in preserving this beautiful place we call home. We chose California Solar because of their quick response to our many questions, willingness to work out a number of different scenarios, competitive rates, access to creative funding and ongoing commitment to the local community,” she said.

Founded in 2000 and located locally at 149 East Main Street in Grass Valley, California Solar Electric Company has installed more than 5.5 million watts of solar panels. Dedicated to advancing the solar industry and developing the best practices for installation methods, California Solar was listed in the July 2017 issue of industry magazine Solar Power World as one of the Top 500 Solar Contractors in the United States.




California Solar Electric Company is featured on this season’s cover of BriarPatch Coop’s publication, The Vine. We appreciate working with BriarPatch, building their new photovoltaic solar energy system. It is a great match of cooperative values, community resources and sustainability.

Included here are a few excerpts from the article that explain a bit more about the process we are engaged in as we examine the possibility of becoming a worker-owned cooperative.

From The Vine:

Cooperatives are enterprises that are owned, controlled, and operated for the benefit of the members, and are democratically governed on the principle of one member, one vote. In a consumer cooperative like BriarPatch, the voting members are the people who buy the goods from the business. A worker cooperative’s members are the people who work in the co-op, and are referred to as worker-owners.


Construction on the BriarPatch Co-op parking and solar project began May 19, 2016. Hats off to BriarPatch for being a community leader in environmental responsibility!

The cooperatively-owned grocery store is installing an innovative 680-panel, 469,000-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array to run along the center of an expanded parking lot. It will be the largest such solar array in Nevada County. (more…)