Hello, my name is Justus Strickland, owner, and general manager of Plexsolar LLC. After growing up in Clovis, Emilio Romero (co-owner & head of sales) & I left town in search of new opportunities. Our search ended In 2018 when we became energy consultants for a residential solar company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was during this time we were introduced to all the problems that lay within traditional utility practices. I have spent the last 5 years studying the inefficiencies of our traditional power distribution grid, but the key takeaway is this.
By now we should all know that utility companies get most of the energy they produce from burning coal, and natural gas, which emits heavy gasses that trap heat within the atmosphere, which in turn, speeds up climate change. These issues have become so politicized, that they are nearly impossible to debate, but the real problem with traditional power companies has nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with the cost of keeping up a 100-year-old grid that loses more power than it produces. From general infrastructure & available supply issues to blackouts causing the death of 246 people in Texas during the summer of 2021, homeowners across the nation are dealing with the costly side effects of a failing grid first hand.
These issues are becoming more prevalent as the grid continues to age, which has led to legislation like The Energy Transition act passed in 2019 here in the state of New Mexico. The bill requires power companies like Xcel to double renewable energy production by the year 2025. To do this they are building wind and solar farms north and south of town. These projects cost Xcel BILLIONS, which is why on February 26, 2022, Xcel Energy received permission from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to increase your utility rates by 20% in both the winter and summer months.
Fortunately, the net metering program allows qualified homeowners to transition to their own solar projects at no out-of-pocket cost. All the surplus energy your system produces is redirected back to the grid, which helps Xcel get closer to meeting its renewable requirements and lets you create your own power for a monthly rate that’s less than you currently pay.
On top of that, your rate is fixed, so as Xcel continues to increase rates for homes that either don’t qualify or don’t take advantage of the program, your rate remains the same. Qualifying homes have roofs large enough to house the panels needed to offset 100% or more of their power from the grid.
After having a great experience selling solar in Albuquerque, it was obvious that solar would play an increasingly important role in the lives of New Mexicans over the coming years. Since our network existed primarily in Clovis, we made the decision to move back home the following year. Our plan was simple, Clovis is sunny and virtually devoid of solar, we thought all we needed to do was show up and start selling, however, things didn’t go off without a hitch as we had planned.
You see, Eastern, New Mexico, has more sunlight than 98% of the United States. Plenty of solar companies are aware that in terms of sunlight hours, Clovis is one of the best locations for solar on the map, however, without access to a reliable installer, and high connectivity fees from certain power providers, solar has remained, for the most part, out of reach for local homeowners. To make things worse, out-of-state sales agencies didn’t fix the installer problem before bombarding homeowners in the area with well intended promises that never delivered, in turn creating a bad reputation for solar as a whole. But the solar industry’s “no so speedy” reputation doesn’t change the fact that unless something is done to improve the residential solar energy infrastructure in this part of the state, homeowners will have no choice but to continue paying more for the power they rent, just so Xcel can meet their renewable energy requirements.
That’s where we come in. Our growing team is on a mission to provide ease of access to solar energy for homeowners and commercial land owners in Eastern, New Mexico. Over the past 2 years we have taken average time to install down from 8 months, to just 6-8 weeks. Another key issue we faced was dealing with inaccurate proposal software. Since we have more sun than most states, your everyday run of the mill solar software that only accounts for factory production ratings, overestimates the amount of panels needed to offset your power. Aurora, our system design software, is the solar industries most accurate proposal platform. By calculating weather data, angular radiance, equipment specs, pitch positioning and a long list of other factors, this program lets our consultants design your system accurately the first time, without the hassle of processing multiple revisions.
We have made huge strides so far, but this is only the beginning. Outside of direct consultation, our team is hard at work searching for ways to speed up the adoption of solar energy on both the residential and commercial fronts. From connecting homeowners in rural communities with reliable installers, to onboarding investors & organizing the equity needed to take on bigger projects, one thing is for certain.