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South Forsyth solar firm lands defense contract
Will install panels for Guard project
Michael Chance with Solar Energy USA shows one of the panels that will be used in a large-scale installation at a National Guard facility in Savannah. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

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For more information about Solar Energy USA, visit its website at

A south Forsyth business has been tapped by the Department of Defense for a major solar energy project.

Solar Energy USA, headquartered at a site off Hwy. 9 in the Midway community, soon will begin installing 403 solar panels on the roof of the Georgia National Guard Hunter AASF building in Savannah.

Michael Chance, a spokesman of Solar Energy USA, said the project is one of the largest in the company’s history.  

“We did 420 panels on a project in Texas, so this [National Guard] project is definitely in the top five of our biggest installs,” Chance said.

While Solar Energy USA will be installing the panels, the devices themselves are manufactured by Suniva.

“They’re based out of Norcross, so it’s exciting to get to partner with another north Georgia-based company on this project,” Chance said.

Leaders of Solar Energy USA hope the Savannah installation will lead to additional projects for the defense department and other government offices.

According to a statement from Perry Bell, president and CEO of the company, the United States is “experiencing a very strong period of solar growth.”

“Thanks to decreasing costs and impressive long-term savings, over 5.3 gigawatts of new American solar electric capacity is projected to come online in 2014,” said Bell, adding that the Army in particular may add more solar energy devices over the next few years.

“In May 2013, the Army established a new policy for Operational Energy, which focuses on improving the Army’s capabilities through better use of energy. The total installed capacity of renewable energy sources for the U.S. military will grow from 80 megawatts in 2013 to more than 3,200 megawatts in 2025 … according to a report from Pike Research.”

Citing a national industry data, Chance added that the solar field continues to grow.

“It’s interesting that the solar industry now has 119,000 employees, and in 2013 a new solar project was installed every four minutes,” he said. “The average price of a solar panel has decreased by about 60 percent since the beginning of 2011 and that’s why we’re seeing all this grow. The cost has come down to a point where it’s competitive.”

Chance said the company expects to begin the Savannah project within the next few weeks and have the system installed and operational by the end of March.  

“This project definitely puts us on a larger national platform to get our brand and our business out there,” he said. “It just shows … that we’re in the top tier of energy installers, so it’s great.”