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  • Jaclyn Zumwalt

Interview with True South Solar Sales and Marketing Manager, Michael Stringer

Q: Michael – you recently started working with TSS. What most surprised you about the solar industry?

A: I have been absolutely floored by the amount of interest in solar. From environmentally conscious homeowners to bottom-line-focused business execs, to churches and synagogues, the list is pretty long! The federal government just enacted new incentives to go solar, which helps us compete with the heavily entrenched oil and gas industry and power companies. We have a number of competitors who’ve recently entered the Rogue Valley and I can see why: Southern Oregon has an enviable amount of sunshine year-round. Southern Oregon is ready to go solar!

Q: What’s the most exciting program currently available to customers? Please share some details.

A: I think the most exciting part of solar for most businesses is that they can build value in creative ways, while also doing the right thing for our planet. Our commercial customers are really excited to learn about the rate of return for solar and how much the federal 30% investment tax credit (ITC) increases that rate so that the solar investment continues to pay dividends for the life of the system. Rogue Valley nonprofit organizations may now also take advantage of the ITC as a direct payment, which is a new offering. (The ITC has traditionally been a credit towards an organization’s tax liability, which really didn’t benefit non-profits since their liability is zero). School districts can use restricted tax levy capital fund dollars on the initial solar investment, which frees up additional room in their budget to use for adding teachers and other enrichment activities.

Q: What about this is different from past programs and incentives?

A: There are some really great ways the solar landscape changed in 2022. First, the federal ITC was extended for 12 years, so we don’t keep having to go back to the drawing board every year. That’s a long runway for solar! The new nonprofit credit means that these struggling organizations can finally get a 30% off solar coupon. Technology has advanced over the 13 years we’ve been in business, cutting the cost of going solar in half!

Q: How are things looking for 2023?

A: Fantastic! While the federal incentives were really great in 2022, we’re still being pestered by that nasty supply chain bug. Things are starting to flow again in the fourth quarter, thank goodness. As we roll into Q1 and Q2 next year, we expect to be very busy, so we’ve added staff across all departments so we’re ready to meet the growing demand.

Q: Before you go, please tell us about what sets TSS apart from other solar design and installation companies.

A: Thank you for asking this question, because it’s incredibly important. We feel very strongly about sustainability and it’s been a part of who we are since day one. True South’s mission is “Solar on every roof and the best jobs ever!” We’re committed to ridiculously great customer service, supporting our Southern Oregon community, a great workplace with a living wage, and, most importantly, being energy experts. We love that there are so many companies out there who want to install solar, and what sets us apart is our attention to serving each client’s unique needs with an eye to craftsmanship.

Q: Who are some of the other professionals that TSS collaborates with to provide solar solutions?

A: We work with a number of local companies that are also focused on harnessing solar energy. We regularly collaborate with DEI Engineers to engineer and design our pole-mounted solar arrays. We work with Stracker Solar to provide materials and installation of solar panels on their dual-axis sun tracking systems. A former True South team member has a consulting company that assists with the design of our commercial systems. We regularly field calls from folks in government and other agencies seeking our expertise and we’re happy to share our knowledge.

Q: We know that solar is a good solution for many “problems.” What does it best lend itself to?

A: The electric grid that’s been built to serve the power demand in the U.S. is simply amazing and wow, what an impressive feat of engineering and American grit! That said, it does have a few very serious drawbacks, the biggest of which is that we have become reliant on a bunch of pollution-spewing energy plants and river-choking hydroelectric dams. Looking forward, we need to build more distributed power generation. The more that we can “diversify” the grid, the better off we all will be. Match that with storage solutions like Tesla Powerwall and we’ll be in a much better place in 10 years.

Q: What Southern Oregon solar projects would we recognize?

A: We worked with the Ashland Food Coop to create one of Oregon’s first community solar projects, which enables a business or group of homeowners to generate solar power via a coop model. We installed the solar arrays at the Rogue Valley Airport. We’ve done several projects with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We mounted the solar array on the new Grill & Chill fast-food place at exit 19. Southern Oregon Subaru, the Ashland Historic Armory, Work Sharp. Pretty much any business that has a solar array in the Valley worked with us to make it happen. Add that to the 1,100 homes with solar in the Valley and that adds up to a lot of local energy production!

Q: Thanks, Michael. If someone has a project in mind, what is the best way for them to proceed?

A: We love meeting new people. Check out our website at and submit an inquiry or just go the old-fashioned route and give us a call at (800) 947-1187.

Q: Solar energy is such a huge (and growing) industry; what other information is important for people to understand?

A: I think we all need to get a better understanding of solar + storage. You’ve probably seen the ad on TV where the new Ford F-150 Lightning can be used to power your home for a few days. That’s such a powerful concept—especially now that power companies shut the grid down for days at a time during high wind events in fire season. Not to mention natural disasters. We are the only company in the Rogue Valley offering storage solutions like Tesla Powerwall—mostly because it’s a new and rarely-understood concept. Imagine the peace of mind you’d have with a storage solution in place at your home or business. You won't need to worry about the ability to power an in-home medical device or another essential device—even when the power is out. As this technology adoption gains momentum, entire communities can achieve energy independence. Talk about community resilience!


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