Solar Experts

Janelle Lancaster, President of National Solar in Bend, Talks the Nuts and Bolts of Solar Energy

President of National Solar, Janelle Lancaster is a lifelong entrepreneur and Pacific Northwest native. Janelle and her family founded National Solar with a simple mission in mind: commitment to a positive change. Located in Bend, National Solar offers free estimates to see how solar might work for any home, business, or industry. Here Janelle and co-founder Justin Lancaster answer our questions:

 What new innovations or leading technologies for solar are coming to the market? 

I think that we are seeing the biggest changes in storage or batteries. Technology advancements in batteries, propelled perhaps by electric vehicles, has led to better performance and lower pricing. We think this trend will continue. Demand for battery backup systems has steadily grown over the past couple of years.  Today about one third of our clients are asking for some sort of storage solution to go with their solar purchase.  

Is the future net metering or batteries? 

I think the future will involve both net metering and homeowner storage of power. One interesting aspect of distributed storage is that these systems could be accessed not only by the homeowner but also by the utility as grid demands fluctuate during a 24-hour period. 

Is Oregon a leader in solar and if not, what areas are preventing that? 

Oregon versus other states that we work in is somewhat more difficult in terms of permitting—permits in Oregon can take longer and cost more than say, Washington state.  

How is Bend measuring up with its solar initiatives?

Since 2009, National Solar has installed over 1,200 jobs in the State of Oregon. I think there is a huge demand for solar in Central Oregon due to the amount of solar resource we enjoy here. Pacific Power customers enjoy the biggest benefits from going solar versus Central Electric Cooperative customers, mainly due to net metering differences. Pacific Power pays customers a retail rate on power generated versus a less generous wholesale rate.

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