People of the 10th anniversary Top Solar Contractors list: Ash Padilla, SunRenu Solar

For the 10th anniversary of the Top Solar Contractors list, we’re sharing Q&A’s with the people who make the industry run every day. Read more interviews here.

How’d you get started in solar?

My uncle worked for SunRenu as the general manager, which introduced me to the company. They were a growing commercial solar installation company and solar energy always intrigued me. I’m a third-generation electrician by trade and saw the benefits solar brought to our world and my career. So I jumped in head-first and never looked back.

What’s your favorite part about being in the solar industry?

The constant evolution in technologies and challenges it brings keeps me on my toes. Over the past eight years I’ve been with SunRenu, panel wattage, inverter and racking technology has constantly evolved. At each evolution, it’s like learning a new product or technology, which satisfies my desire to be a lifelong learner and to be an expert in my craft. The company does a great job at selling and installing commercial solar systems, and it’s my job as lead electrician to figure out the most efficient and high-quality way to execute these projects. Learning about new products along with the rest of the team never gets boring!

What has surprised you the most about the solar industry in the last 10 years?

The pushback on what solar brings to our society. From cities instituting roadblocks, to utilities making it harder through red tape, I’m surprised that clean energy is getting harder to institute even when the federal administration and utilities say they are for solar growth. Our team does a great job at adapting and pivoting as we navigate through the solar-coaster.

What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?

We foresee consistent growth for commercial solar for the quality contractors. We also see energy storage on the horizon to assist each solar system we install. As costs come down for solar and batteries, utilities are going to have their hands full controlling the amount of clean energy for customers that want to own their own power. There will be a shift in how Americans get their energy, and we feel that within the next 10 years, we’ll be on the forefront of the energy delivery shift.

How’d you/your company stand out in the last year?

We adapted to the market and enhanced safety protocols as well as commissioning procedures due to the pandemic. We build high-quality systems and also brought in a full-time staff member to monitor each and every system we’ve built in order to oversee the production and hedge corrective maintenance. The pandemic did play a role in our business, but as an essential company, we pressed through our installation with social distancing and other pandemic-related safety measures. We also developed another sector of our business in service, operations and maintenance to keep sales growing and employees working while some of our larger projects stalled when 90% of the Arizona workforce was working remotely. So at this time, we are not only turnkey as a commercial solar contractor, we have a full-time service and maintenance division for long-term operation and asset management.

How did you become a partner at SunRenu, and what does that position mean to you?

That is a surprisingly long story but the short of it is “with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.” It means the world to me. I didn’t make the best choices with my education in my youth, so I had to go the long and hard way to get here, and this only motivates me more to be the best I can be.

How are you helping to improve the industry?

By passing my knowledge on to as many people that want to be in this industry. I love training and educating, and if I can make the team stronger by knowledge and experience, that only makes us better, faster and more efficient. We also work with various manufacturers, racking and inverter specifically, and offer our two cents of how to make the installation process more efficient, or achieve higher production. Some manufacturers like the feedback from boots-on-the-ground team members.