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2014 BEST Green Business: Solar Works

Author: Bonnie Durrance
May, 2014 Issue

“Our job is to match the person or the business with the option that works best.” —John Parry


For 28 years, Solar Works has been working with homeowners, businesses, community based organizations and municipalities in the North Bay to provide clean and reliable solar energy systems. As founder and CEO John Parry tells it, theirs is a business that’s helping make the community—and the planet—a healthier, stronger, more resilient place.
“Solar isn’t like a lot of other commodities,” says Parry, “where you shop for the best price, buy it, and your transaction is done. We partner with people to solve their energy needs.”
His wife, Laura Goldman, who is Solar Works’ VP, adds, “We have great customers, and we’re really dedicated to doing the best work around. We provide energy-efficient solutions that conserve natural resources and promote individual and community self-reliance.” For her, as for Parry, it’s more than just making a sale. “We’re in this for helping our community—economically, environmentally. It’s a way of doing the right thing. That's what we do.”
Providing solar power is about more than making a sale, it’s a long-term passion. This passion for clean energy has been driving Parry for a long time. “I was convinced 45 years ago, when scientists were saying if we don't do something in 50 years, we’re going to have a disaster, that if I were to make a difference, it would be in the area of energy.” His success in his mission is observable throughout Napa and Sonoma counties, where solar panels shine on rooftops, in gardens, over parking lots—all places where far-sighted clients have enlisted Solar Works’ expertise to bring in power from the sun.
With a relatively new industry like solar power, customer service is highly important, and Solar Works is organized around a philosophy of partnership with its clients. “If somebody has a question, concern, problem, whatever,” says Goldman, “we're a phone call away—and our warranty policy is probably the best around.” The relationship is a continuing one, as customers explore their own horizons. “Many of our customers now want to expand their systems, because they’re getting electric vehicles,” she says. “There are people now who want to go solar because they’re seeing this technology is doable, it's obtainable.”
 “We work for the clients, not our vendors or financiers,” says Parry. “Our job is to match the person or the business with the option that works best.”
The beauty of solar energy, as Parry points out, is the customer owns the power system, so the monthly bill goes toward equity, not rent. Plus, people love seeing their electric meter running backward right away. As for sustainability, “Well,” says Goldman, “I know the sun is going out of business in, I don't know, another billion years or so, maybe less….”
“About 5 billion,” says Parry, assuring us that buying into solar power is definitely buying into a sustainable source of energy—at least for another 5 billion years.”

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