Promise, which is just a year old, has focused on solar hot water installations for multi-family affordable housing complexes in Los Angeles and San Diego, said spokesman Andy Mannle.
“Solar hot water is five times more efficient than solar PV because it’s heat to heat instead of heat to electricity,” Mannle said. “And everyone needs hot water for showers, sinks, food preparation – everything.”
With those advantages solar hot water could have been a good business regardless of added incentives.
“It’s just not as sexy as solar PV,” Mannle said. “It’s been around longer. It’s a proven technology. There has been a lot more innovation and cost reduction in solar PV.”
But when California started offering additional rebates for solar hot water installations for affordable housing, Adam Capital decided to get into the game.
Promise Energy is a subsidiary of the green energy venture capital firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Promise has grown quickly, expanding to nine people on the management team in just a year and has completed its first round of project financing and is in the design stage on those projects as it prepares to start its next round of project financing, said Jonas Villalba, vice president of sales for Promise.
He said the company relies on contractors to do the actual “boots on the roof” work of installing, which enabled the company to ramp up quickly and install at multiple locations at once.
Promise’s rapid growth in the solar hot water industry is unique. Even with the added rebates, Mannle said Promise is ahead of its competition after just a year.
“Most of the solar hot water companies in southern California are smaller and can’t access the same kind of capital we can,” Villalba said. “They don’t have the expertise in the tax credit market. They don’t have the bandwidth or the resources.”
That’s why Promise is growing so quicky, he said.
The company just opened a new office in downtown L.A., a city Mannle said is replacing its reputation as a city of smog and traffic jams to that of one of the greenest cities in the country.