By George Harvey
Enfield Energy Emporium
Energy Emporium’s mission is to help people and small businesses reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. That means the focus is first to listen and understand where the customers are coming from and how their energy is used today, and then help them chart a path toward their goals. The Energy Emporium staff design, install, and maintain a variety of renewable energy systems, including solar electric, solar hot water, high efficiency wood pellet systems, heat pumps, and hybrid wood-storage systems. They consider both the existing energy systems and the lifestyle of the occupants in their designs.
Kimberley Quirk, who runs Energy Emporium, has a Master’s degree from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, with a concentration in electrical engineering. She says the Energy Emporium is unique because the staff ‘live the solutions’ and there is a showroom where people can visit to see renewable energy systems in action. The business and her home are in a zero-net-energy building that she renovated beginning with an 1858 structure. All of the heat, hot water and electricity are provided by the sun.
Energy Emporium’s showroom is also a resource center with books, products, and lots of ideas for reducing or eliminating fossil fuels. The hours are 10:00 to 5:00 on Tuesday through Friday, and 10:00 to 2:00 on Saturday.
The Energy Emporium serves the Upper Valley area of New Hampshire and Vermont. The store is located at 78 Main Street, Enfield, New Hampshire. The number is 603-632-1263, and the website can be found at http://energyemp.com/.
With history going back to the late 1980s, Revision Energy emerged as a business in its current form in 2003, and since then has built over three thousand systems, mostly in New Hampshire and Maine.
The company’s mission is to reduce the use of fossil fuels. While most competitors have dropped solar hot water, Revision Energy has not. This is because their mission guides business decisions, and though solar hot water is not as profitable as other systems, it helps achieve the mission.
Much of the story of Revision Energy can be told in the history of its employees. In the eleven years the company has been in business, it has had sixty-four employees. Two of these left to move to other parts of the country, but all of the rest remain. All are full time employees, and all participate in profit-sharing. One is a master plumber, two are master electricians, and all the other workers in the field take courses, on track to become masters of their trades.
Employee loyalty is matched by customer loyalty. Earlier customers often return to have systems improved, such as adding solar photovoltaic (PV) to solar hot water for a home, or installing a heat pump. Steve Condon says customer loyalty starts with a company goal of providing what is people call “legendary service,” being responsive and giving the best possible service.
Revision Energy has offices in New Hampshire and Maine, and serves Massachusetts and Vermont residents as well. The number in Exeter, New Hampshire is 603-679-1777, and the website is http://www.revisionenergy.com
Catamount Solar has a different business plan that is a story in itself, and makes a difference to their customers.
Kevin MacCollister, Howie Michaelson, and Dan Kinney, formerly employees of a larger solar installer, all left it at about the same time. Each formed his own business. Though they were competitors, they started to use each other as resources they could call on to achieve better efficiency. This eventually led to their decision to build a more formal business model. Howie understood and liked co-operatives, and the three decided they would combine their businesses into a worker-owned co-op. Now, a few years later, another worker-owner has joined them, and two other employees are on track to the same status.
For the customer, this means speaking to any Catamount worker is either speaking to an owner or to someone who is working to become one. A worker co-op is conducive to better workmanship and better service. The business is also local and part of the local economy.
Many companies are sales companies that have other companies do all the work. Catamount Solar does its own work. They focus on PV installations. They do a lot of grid-tied work, but they are particularly proud of their off-grid work. While other companies shy away from off-grid installations because they tend to require continued customer support, Catamount is interested enough in customer support that they even take on work servicing systems they did not install.
Catamount has offices in East Montpelier, Corinth, and South Royalton, Vermont. The number is 802-299-6669. Their web site is http://catamountsolar.com.
Power Guru is operated by Bhima Nitta, a chemical engineer who started working in that field in 1993. Over time, he became increasingly concerned about the environment and energy. He worked with the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and the Efficiency Vermont program in 2007.
Bhima’s interest in solar PVs and the technology’s potential for combination with efficiency led to his solar installer certification in Vermont and New York. He is expanding to do work in Massachusetts, since Bennington is located close to Vermont’s borders with both states.
He has background is in systems integration, and an understanding of issues relating to the building envelope, weatherization, insulation, and air sealing. His interest goes beyond this, however, and includes all aspects of efficiency and power usage.
His holistic approach requires expertise in areas other than his own. For that reason, he partners with a number of other companies doing engineering, weatherization contracting, architecture, electrical contracting, and more. Thus, he can offer full service to make a building envelope efficient, reduce waste, and make a building as comfortable and affordable as possible.
Their goal is to reduce the carbon footprint and optimize everything to the customer’s needs. After walking through a list of things to do to reduce waste, to reduce the carbon footprint, and to increase efficiency, he looks into the power considerations. He says, “We do not start with solar; we end up with solar. It is that last thing we do after everything else is done.”
Power Guru is in North Bennington, Vermont. The number is 802-379-9973, and the web site is http://power-guru.com.