By George Harvey
In 1952, Bob Therrien bought the Melanson Company, which had been in the roofing business in Gardner, Massachusetts for about twenty years, and moved it to Keene, New Hampshire. The company has continued in the roofing business, operated by members of Therrien’s family ever since.
The Melanson Company has changed quite a lot since 1952, however. For one thing, it expanded, opening new offices in other places, notably Bow, New Hampshire; Rutland, Vermont; and Bennington, Vermont. It also went into other lines of work, though all were related to things that are “on top” in much the ways roofs are. It has branched into work on dropped ceilings and acoustical tiles. It also branched into HVAC, leading to branching into precision manufacture fabrication and machining to support installation of ductwork.
Meanwhile, John Kondos had founded and run a solar installation company, also in Keene. He had started working in solar energy in the 1970s, and was intimately knowledgeable on just about every aspect of the trade. He was well aware of the problems associated with poor quality equipment manufactured in the early days, and spent time working on improvements. He already had decades of experience when Solar Source was founded in 2005, both in photovoltaics (PVs) and solar thermal water heating.
Since solar PVs are so often installed on rooftops, it was one of those things that was “on top,” making it interesting to Rob Therrien, son of Melanson’s founder. And so he acquired Solar Source, making it a division.
Solar Source is a system designer and installer. Rooftop installations require a certain amount of understanding of roofs, which puts Solar Source into a perfect position to do work with an eye to the best overall system possible, including the roof on which the system sits. Solar Source has installed systems ranging from 2 to 128 kilowatts. The company still works on solar thermal installations, as well.
Craig Bell, the general manager of Solar Source, likes to point out that Solar Source has relationships with customers that go beyond what is necessary or usual. For one thing, the company is still maintaining is ability to install thermal collectors and heaters. Many companies have moved away from this side of their work because it requires a different set of skills from what PV installers have and the market is not as large.
Another thing that sets Solar Source apart is that the company takes an active interest in heat pumps. This is not just providing for extra electricity to drive the heat pumps, but managing the heat pump installation, for which Solar Source calls in experienced electricians and plumbers as needed.
The one aspect of the company that is perhaps most impressive is the degree to which customers are directly involved throughout the entire process of installation. Bell says, “We are customer service driven, responding to inquiries in the most timely fashion.” During all stages, during planning, including addressing the issues of rebates and incentives, through other planning and design process, and throughout installation, the customer is kept informed and questions are answered.
Bell is very hopeful about the future of solar for residents of New Hampshire. While the state had net metering for some time, not many people could take advantage of it, because it required the solar panels to be on the same land as the meter that was being credited with their output power, and it restricted them to 15 kilowatts. In 2013 the state enacted a law providing for group net metering. This allows a utility customer to band together, building a solar garden of up to 100 kilowatts, at a common site remote from their meters. This has the advantages of making it possible for people without a good site to get one and of providing reduced costs because of a common installation.
The Solar Source’s phone number is 603-352-4232. The website is www.solarsourcene.com.