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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Solar CATEGORY

Jeremy Carlock is a 14-year veteran of the electrical industry and owner of Got Watts Electric & Solar, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 268-0666 or by email.

Jeremy Carlock

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Jeremy Carlock: High Wattage

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PLEASANT HILL — While pursuing a career in law enforcement, Jeremy Carlock decided to cushion his professional future by learning a trade on the side. Little did he know, this secondary venture would later become his primary livelihood. “After high school, I enrolled in the California Highway Patrol Academy,” he recounts. “When one of my classes was put on hold, I went to work for a family friend who owned an electrical company. I figured it would be good to learn a skill that would keep me employable, in case I was ever laid off from law enforcement. After a couple of years, I decided to switch my focus to electrical work and applied to a union apprenticeship program.”

Having transitioned into full-time electrical work, Jeremy thought his future was secure—that is, until the economic downturn of 2008 left him without a job. However, amidst this seeming career setback, he was able to find a silver lining. “The 2008 crash hit the electrical industry really hard,” he remembers. “The company I worked for went from 125 employees to about 15, and I was one of the last to be laid off. Fortunately, I had been doing a little electrical work on the side, so it allowed me to devote more energy toward developing my own business. Things really started to take off around 2010, and my business has been growing ever since.”

Today, as owner of Got Watts Electric & Solar, Jeremy says his favorite part of his job is getting to the root of difficult problems. “I love troubleshooting—sometimes I call myself a professional problem solver. Whether it’s determining the cause of a malfunction or figuring out a creative way to access a hard-to-reach space, problem-solving is probably the most enjoyable part of it for me.”

A lifetime resident of the East Bay, Jeremy resides today near Benicia with his wife, Andrea, and their infant son, Justin. Not surprisingly, he says the bulk of his time outside of work is devoted to his family. “Most of my hobbies have been put on hold due to the birth of our child. Normally, my wife and I enjoy outdoor activities and trying different restaurants, but right now, we spend all of our time caring for and playing with our son.”

In regard to a professional philosophy, Jeremy invokes the age-old Golden Rule. “My staff and I try to treat everyone the same way we’d want to be treated,” he explains. “So, when it comes to our customers’ projects, we take care of them and make sure they’re happy. We take the same detail-oriented approach on every project, regardless of its size, because to us, the customer’s satisfaction is always the top priority.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Jeremy says it would be a toss-up between two choices. “I would either rent a motorhome and take my family on a road trip or fly us to Mexico and hang out on the beach. Whichever sounds better at the time—I guess I can’t go wrong either way.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite TV shows?
A: “Gold Rush” and “Deadliest Catch.”

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Summer—it’s warm, and I’m able to get outside and do things.

Q: What’s your favorite type of food?
A: I like Asian cuisine, particularly Thai and Japanese food.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: Legos.

Q: Who’s your favorite movie monster?
A: I like vampire movies, so I’d have to say Dracula. He’s like the Sean Connery of vampires!

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Planning for Future Energy Needs With Solar

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PLEASANT HILL — If you’re planning to add a solar power system to your home, be sure to consider any potential future energy needs you may have. Solar power systems are often designed to supply just enough energy to meet the household’s… Read more

Tesla Charging Options

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PLEASANT HILL – An important aspect of buying an electric vehicle is determining how you’re going to charge it. When it comes to charging a Tesla, there are two options to consider: NEMA 14-50 outlet Your first option for charging a Tesla… Read more

The Whole House Fan Advantage

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PLEASANT HILL — If you’re looking for a more energy-efficient way to cool your home, a whole house fan might be the solution. During the summer, it’s common for people to run their air conditioners until late at night, not realizing that… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Tesla Car Charging

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PLEASANT HILL–? Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re thinking about purchasing a Tesla electric car, you’ll need to consider your options in regard to charging. Today we’re in… Read more

Gary Kluck is a veteran of the home improvement industry and CEO of Quality First Home Improvement, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (877) 297-8594 or by email.

Gary Kluck

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Gary Kluck: On the Upbeat

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CITRUS HEIGHTS – Gary Kluck has a lot on his plate. Between managing a home improvement company with more than 180 employees to singlehandedly running a household, it’s easy to think the stress might get to him now and then. However, Gary says maintaining a positive outlook goes a long way toward achieving both inner peace and outward success. “I’m a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy. I have a very upbeat personality, so when I do get stressed, I just stay calm and look at the positives of the situation, and pretty soon I’m back to normal.”

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Gary got his start in the construction industry at an early age. “I began working for my father when I was about 12 years old,” he remembers. “He was in home improvement and did a lot of concrete work and rough framing. I started out doing mostly grunt work, but I continued to learn and develop my skills, and I’ve been immersed in it ever since.”

Gary’s westward migration began in the early 1980s and included a five-year stint working in Colorado before he eventually reached Northern California. When the company he had been working for went bankrupt following a change of ownership, Gary reached out for advice on his next move. “I called the original owner of the business and asked him what I should do next,” he recalls. “He said, ‘Go do your own thing.’ I took his advice and started my own company, and it was the best decision I ever made.” Today, nearly a decade later, Quality First Home Improvement, Inc. is going strong with Gary at the helm.

In addition to running a business, Gary is employed as a full-time father and homemaker, raising his youngest of four daughters while his wife, Tamara, is pursuing her own career out-of-state. “A few years back, my wife decided to go to medical school to become a physician,” he explains. “She’s actually in Pennsylvania doing her residency right now, so I’m kind of like Mr. Mom for the next couple years.” Though his responsibilities keep him busy, Gary does find time to play golf with his friends on a regular basis. He also takes advantage of the occasional opportunity to get away from it all. “We have a cabin up at Eagle Lake, and we like to go out there to do some boating and fishing and just enjoy the peacefulness of nature.”

Gary attributes much of his personal and professional success to the power of positive thinking. “We attract what we think and feel, so it’s important to feel great and think great,” he says. “That’s what I tell all my employees, and it’s really how I built the company. When we started, there were four of us; now, there are 181. By putting out positive energy, we’ve been able to attract positive people who want to do good things.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: Green Bay Packers.

Q: What’s your earliest memory?
A: Digging up worms in the garden when I was three or four years old.

Q: Do you do any celebrity impersonations?
A: I used to do a pretty good Humphrey Bogart, but it’s been a while.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Playing basketball. I could really jump—as a 6’1” forward, I could out-jump our 6’4” center!

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Sit by the fire.

Q: If you had a theme song, what would it be?
A: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.

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How to Prevent Concrete Cracks

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CITRUS HEIGHTS — Many homeowners like to tackle their own concrete projects, whether that means installing a patio cover or renovating a driveway. Laying concrete may seem like a simple task, but there are certain aspects that can complicate the process.… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Solving a Common Concrete Issue

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CITRUS HEIGHTS — Host, Sarah Rutan: When laying concrete during a home project, one of the most common problems is cracks forming in your concrete. Today we’re… Read more

Bob Winn is a veteran of the solar industry and owner of Sky Power Systems, a Diamond Certified company since 2006. He can be reached at (925) 567-3974 or by email.

Bob Winn

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Bob Winn: Sky-Powered Success

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN RAMON — After growing disenchanted with his banking career, Bob Winn decided to leave the financial field behind and reach for the sky. “Prior to getting into solar, I was in banking—mainly digital check processing and security,” he says. “In 2002, after the dot-com crash and Enron fiasco, I decided it was time to get into a new field. Since I was involved in technology, I started looking around for a related business opportunity. When I came across a small solar company, I thought it might be a good investment, so I bought it from the original owner in 2005.” After more than a decade, Bob has no regrets about his decision. “My career today is a lot more rewarding than my previous one. It’s great to be making a positive impact. Plus, solar is the future, so it’s neat to be a part of that.”

Today, as president of Sky Power Systems, Bob says his favorite part of his job is delighting his customers. “Compared to writing a $250 check to PG&E every month, writing a $20,000 check for a solar system isn’t easy. However, at the end of the project, when the meter is spinning backward and the PG&E bill is basically nothing, our clients are really happy with the decisions they’ve made. I call it the ‘solar halo.’ It’s very satisfying to have a job that allows me to make people happy on a regular basis.”

A resident of Danville (where he lives with his wife, Lisa), Bob likes to spend the bulk of his free time outdoors. “There’s a lot of open space in this area, so I spend a lot of time hiking and riding my mountain bike around Mount Diablo, Pleasanton, and the Oakland Hills,” he says. “When I get the chance, I also like to go dirt biking in the mountains or the desert.” In addition to enjoying the outdoors, Bob likes keeping up with his and Lisa’s three children, all of whom are currently attending college.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Bob espouses the importance of doing the right thing. “When it comes to serving customers, our company’s mantra is to always do the right thing,” he affirms. “Don’t do the easy thing or the least expensive thing; just do the right thing. If you do that over and over, it’ll pay off in the long run. You may experience some short-term pain, but you’ll be better off overall.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Bob says he’d hit the open road. “I would probably get an RV and travel around the Western United States. That would give me and my wife a chance to see all the national parks and spend some more time enjoying the outdoors.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Survivor.”

Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: Classic rock.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Pete’s Brass Rail & Car Wash in Danville.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Patagonia.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Old coins that end up in my pocket. You’d be surprised what people give you in change sometimes.

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The Importance of Buying from an Established Solar Company

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SAN RAMON — All solar panels come with a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty, but the big question is whether the manufacturer will still be around in 25 years to honor its warranty. During the last couple of decades, the solar industry has seen… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: A Smart Choice for Solar Panels

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SAN RAMON — Host, Sarah Rutan: When planning to install a solar energy system, carefully consider who you purchase your equipment from. Today we’re in San Ramon with… Read more

Dean A. is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry and president of Highlight Solar, a Diamond Certified company since 2014. He can be reached at (877) 312-4241 or by email.

Dean A.

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Dean A.: Power Driven

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — Considering that he has a master’s degree in electrical engineering, it wouldn’t be a stretch to describe Dean A. as “power driven.” “I’ve always been intrigued by power systems,” he affirms. “I used to be in engineering and did a lot of design, but when solar started to come into its own, I was intrigued and decided to get involved in the industry.” Dean began his solar career in 2008 by acquiring a franchise from a major solar company, but it wasn’t long before he decided to strike out on his own. “A couple of years after I started the franchise, the company announced it was going to cut its residential services and focus solely on the commercial market. However, I believed the residential market was going to be very lucrative, so I decided to break off and establish my own solar business.”

Today, as owner of Highlight Solar, Dean says his favorite part of his job (other than his ongoing fascination with the technical aspects) is making a positive impact. “Not only is solar power a great financial investment for consumers, it also has a significant ecological effect. We’re helping make the environment cleaner and better for the next generation, which is very rewarding.”

As a resident of San Jose (where he lives with wife and three children), Dean expresses his appreciation for life and work in the Bay Area. “We have amazing weather and amazing people,” he says. “The cultural diversity is fantastic, and I really like how open people are here. Plus, as far as running a business goes, there’s plenty of opportunity to strive and grow.”

Outside of work, Dean engages in a variety of personal hobbies and family activities. “I enjoy science, especially astronomy and technology, so I’m always reading about those subjects,” he says. “I also like to play volleyball, go hiking and camping, and relax on the beach.” In addition to enjoying the local surroundings, Dean likes traveling to foreign destinations. “Every year, we make it a point to visit a new country, which is a great way for us to expand the kids’ horizons.”

In regard to his professional career, Dean credits a good part of his success to an emphasis on customer satisfaction. “Our customers are the backbone of our business, which is why we do whatever it takes to make sure they’re satisfied,” he affirms. “We go to great lengths to bring them the latest products and technology, and we continue to educate customers and consumers in general about the entire concept behind solar.”

When asked what his life might look like if he were to retire tomorrow, Dean says he’d devote more of his time to volunteering. “I would probably get more involved in the local community. My wife and kids do a lot of volunteering for various community events and causes, so if I had more time, it’d be very rewarding to do more of that with them.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee in the morning, tea at night.

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: Jazz.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Dishdash in Sunnyvale.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Malaysia. The country has amazing tropical beauty, and I hear the people are very nice and down to earth.

Q: Have you ever read a book more than once?
A: “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson.

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Solar Financing Options

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SAN JOSE — When it comes to financing a solar power system, there are numerous options to choose from, each with particular benefits for homeowners in varying financial situations. Gaining an understanding of each of these options will help you decide… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Solar Financing Options

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SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When planning to install a solar power system, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is how you’re going… Read more

Jason Lee is general manager of Solar System, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (888) 540-0147 or by email.

Jason Lee

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Jason Lee: Shining a Light

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — As a former real estate broker, Jason Lee knows a thing or two about the importance of reading the fine print in a contract. In fact, it was his expert eye for the particulars that largely inspired his shift to a career in the solar industry. “While working as a real estate broker, I started looking more closely at the solar business, which seemed to be full of opportunity,” he explains. “In particular, solar leasing sounded like something that could really benefit homeowners. However, as I began looking at a contract, I was amazed at how bad it was—almost as bad as a subprime mortgage loan! This motivated me even more to get into the solar business and push things in the other direction. There are real benefits to solar if you pursue it the right way, and my goal has always been to help homeowners do just that.”

Today, as general manager of Solar System, Inc., Jason says his favorite part of his job is educating homeowners. “In real estate, clients have representatives to watch out for their interests, but this isn’t the case in the solar industry, which puts homeowners at risk of being taken advantage of. That’s why I enjoy educating my clients and explaining the differences between the real savings of ownership versus leasing.”

A resident of San Jose (where he lives with his wife and business partner, Angie), Jason expresses his appreciation for the cutting-edge character of California’s third largest city. “San Jose has become a major hub for high-tech, which makes it the perfect place for someone like me who is passionate about clean energy technology.”

When asked how he spends his time outside of work, Jason says free time is in short supply these days. “Solar is a complex business, and since our company is still fairly young, there’s still a lot of work to be done before I can relax.” When he does get a break, Jason enjoys reading, keeping up with politics and hanging out with his son, Brenden, and daughter, Adriennne, both of whom are currently attending college.

In regard to his professional career, Jason adheres to a “customers first” philosophy. “When I worked in real estate, fiduciary duty to my clients was a point of emphasis, and that’s something I’ve brought with me to the solar industry,” he explains. “As a company that serves the public, we recognize the need to put our clients’ interests before our own. In doing so, we aim to bring value to both our individual clients and our community as a whole.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, but I think I’d actually like to travel around the United States first and visit some of the beautiful places in this country.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Work on my presentation for educating consumers about solar.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Talk radio, because it keeps my mind engaged even when I’m driving.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The Seattle Seahawks.

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Avoiding Pitfalls with Your Solar Contract

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SAN JOSE — Similar to buying a house, installing a solar energy system is a long-term investment that’s designed to pay off over multiple decades. However, unlike in real estate, when you sign a contract with a solar company, you don’t… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Caution about Power Purchase Agreements

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SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: Before signing a power purchase agreement with a solar leasing company, make sure you understand the implications of the fine print.… Read more

Tom Amitay is district manager of NRG Clean Power, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (831) 708-8978 or by email.

Tom Amitay

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Tom Amitay: A Powerful Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CANOGA PARK — Tom Amitay was pursuing a career in finance, but when he saw the opportunity presented by the burgeoning solar industry, he decided to get in on the action. “From a financial standpoint, I was struck by the growth potential of the solar industry,” he affirms. “However, I was also attracted to the fact that it was clean energy, which made it not only lucrative but something that would actually benefit the planet. It wasn’t long before I left my finance job and started doing sales for a solar company.”

Today, as district manager of NRG Clean Power, Tom says his favorite part of his job is passing on the benefits of solar to his customers. “Working in solar gives me an opportunity to make a living by helping people save money. Not only that, I’m also helping save energy and reduce pollution, so it gives me a good feeling to know I’m having a positive impact.”

Despite being born in the United States, Tom grew up in Israel, where his parents were originally from. After serving in the Israeli army, he returned to the U.S. and resides today in San Jose, where he says he appreciates the cutting-edge atmosphere. “I really like the innovative environment we have here. No matter how far we come with technology, there’s a feeling that we can go further and do more.”

Outside of work, Tom likes to stay active with pastimes like playing basketball and hiking on local trails. He also enjoys going to the movies and hanging out with friends.

In his life and career, Tom espouses the value of perseverance. “I believe that if you work hard, good things will happen for you,” he explains. “I’ve experienced that in my own life—I started at the bottom and worked my way up, and it has been well worth it. I continue to work hard in my current position and look forward to my future progress.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Tom says he’d see the world. “I’d probably travel for a while. Maybe I’d do a tour of Europe—I haven’t been yet, so that seems like a good place to start.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The Golden State Warriors.

Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: Action movies.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Game of Thrones.”

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: Facebook.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The future—maybe 20 years from now just to see what technology is like.

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A Little-Known Fact about Solar Panels

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CANOGA PARK — While most people have a rough idea of how solar power works, there are still a few little-known facts about solar panels and how they function. For example, when solar panels are installed, they’re not in direct contact… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Strategic Solar Panel Placement

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CANOGA PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to installing solar panels on a roof, strategic placement can provide some added functional advantages. Today we’re in… Read more

Chris Zepponi is vice president of sales at High Definition Solar, a Diamond Certified company since 2013. He can be reached at (925) 399-1919 or by email.

Chris Zepponi

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Chris Zepponi: Good Energy

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CONCORD — With a background in sales and marketing, Chris Zepponi has done everything from home loan refinancing to high-tech recruitment. However, it wasn’t until he entered the home improvement field that he discovered the kind of energy that truly suited his personality. “Honestly, I never expected to be in home improvement, but given the economy in 2002, I was happy to get any work I could find,” he recounts. “To my surprise, I fell in love with the industry. In particular, I appreciated the unique opportunity to help people make their dreams come true.”

Chris explains how his involvement in home improvement naturally led to an emphasis on solar energy: “When I first started in this industry, solar wasn’t at the forefront—it was more about general remodeling measures like replacing windows and kitchen cabinets. Within about seven years, however, solar had emerged as a huge aspect, which prompted our company to alter its focus and change its name to High Definition Solar. Today, solar is a cornerstone of the home improvement field, and it continues to grow and evolve.”

As a resident of Fairfield, Chris says he appreciates the energy (both solar and communal) to be found in the Bay Area. “With the exception of maybe New York, I think the Bay Area has the best, most vibrant level of energy in the country. In addition to the people, there are so many opportunities here, especially since Silicon Valley is the high-tech capital of the world. Also, from a solar standpoint, the Bay Area has some of the best climate in the world for solar energy.”

Outside of work, Chris likes to stay active. “I have a passion for working out, so I spend a lot of time at the gym, as well as running and hiking,” he affirms. “I also love playing golf—I could play four or five times a month, no problem.” Chris also enjoys spending quality time with his 15-year-old daughter, Christina. “I like hanging out with my daughter, whether helping her with homework or taking her to the movies.”

In his life and career, Chris says attitude is everything. “If you don’t have a good attitude, you’ll never get to where you want to be in life. When you look at all the top business people and professional athletes, you’ll see they have an attitude that’s second to none. Nothing is going to stop them from being the best, and that’s a mentality we try to emulate at High Definition Solar.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Chris says he’d see the world. “I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like to, so that would probably be number one. I’ve never been to Europe, and since my ethnicity is Greek and Italian, I’d love to visit those countries.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Summer—it’s when my company is the busiest.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Homeland.”

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: YouTube.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Sports—I played rugby.

Q: Is there a book that’s been particularly influential for you?
A: “Awaken the Giant Within” by Anthony Robbins.

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Solar Power and Rate Increase Resistance

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CONCORD — Everyone knows there are benefits to switching to solar energy, but there’s one advantage you may not have considered. One of the great things about going solar is it allows you to lock in your energy rate, which makes you… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Becoming Rate Increase-Resistant with Solar

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CONCORD — Host, Sarah Rutan: Everyone knows about the benefits of switching to solar energy, but there’s one advantage you may not have considered. Today we’re in… Read more

Jim Gitas is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry and CEO of Your Energy Solutions, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (888) 928-1425 or by email.

Jim Gitas

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Jim Gitas: Green Aspirations

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PLEASANTON — Before he was providing energy solutions for Bay Area homeowners, Jim Gitas had an accomplished career in a different type of Green business. “I used to own one of the largest independent mobile paper shredding companies in the Bay Area,” he explains. “I got started working with my mom when I was nine years old. She was a pioneer in the recycling industry—in 1979, she created one of the first mobile document shredding trucks. I remember riding in the passenger seat and watching people’s reactions as this huge beast roared down the street. When I reached adulthood, I decided to keep working in the recycling industry, and that’s where I stayed for 20 years until I sold my company.”

While Jim could have retired comfortably at this point, he felt there were still big things in store for his professional career. “I was too young to retire and decided I wanted to get into another aspect of Green business,” he says. “I was particularly intrigued by solar and started researching it. In 2007, I started my own solar and energy efficiency company, and I’m still at it today. I’ve been trying to break the laws of physics since I was a kid, so this is the closest I can get to doing it!”

Today, as CEO of Your Energy Solutions, Jim says his favorite part of his job is interacting with customers. “Besides having a passion for renewable energy, I really enjoy meeting different people. My job allows me to do that and enrich their lives as well, which is very rewarding. I’ve had many customers contact me over the years and tell me how happy they are about their decision to switch to solar. When everyone is happy, it makes your job very enjoyable.”

A resident of Danville (where he lives with his wife and two children), Jim likes to stay active in his free time. “I walk 10 miles a day during the week and try to get in a 20-mile walk on the weekend,” he says. “It was actually my dog, Revel, who got me into walking. He’s half Pomeranian and half Husky, both of which are very hyper breeds, so he needs to walk a lot to get all that energy out.” Jim also enjoys aquatic activities like fishing and jet skiing, and he has a special passion for music. “I play piano a little bit and was a singer when I was younger. Both of my kids are very involved in music, so we’ve kind of become a musical family, which has been a really cool experience.”

In regard to a professional philosophy, Jim shares a bit of wisdom he received from his mother. “My mom imparted a lot of her values to me and my brothers, and we all carry that forward to this day,” he affirms. “The biggest lesson I learned from her is to treat your customers the same way you want to be treated. We’re all customers at some point, so it’s important to show your customers respect and treat them ethically and honestly. If you plant good seeds, you get good fruit, so that’s what I try to do every day.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The guitar. I’ve never really been able to play it because my fingers are too big.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both. I only sleep about four hours a day—I go to bed around 2am and get up around 6am.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “Braveheart.”

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: Those big, wooden cable spools. As a kid, I found one and learned how to stand up and walk around on it, kind of like a unicycle. To this day, if I see one, I’ll jump up on it and roll around. It really trips people out!

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: Ice cream.

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Considering Roof Size When Choosing Solar Panels

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PLEASANTON — It may seem like all solar panels are the same, but this isn’t the case. Most solar manufacturers offer different grades of panels, ranging from standard efficiency to high efficiency. Naturally, the higher the efficiency of a panel, the higher… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Roof Size and Solar Panel Selection

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PLEASANTON — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to designing a solar energy system, one good principle is to let your roof be your guide. Today we’re in… Read more

Rich Moore is president of Freedom Solar, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2013. He can be reached at (408) 758-5685 or by email.

Rich Moore

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Rich Moore: Renewable Enthusiasm

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

CAMPBELL — Rich Moore began his career in the high-tech industry, but he’s always been interested in renewable energy, so when an opportunity arose to get professionally involved, he didn’t hesitate. “I was working with semiconductors and microchips for Texas Instruments, but I found myself looking into renewable energy more and more, especially solar,” he recounts. “When a friend introduced me to one of the first solar integrators in the Bay Area, I was immediately interested. In 2005, I started doing solar full-time, and in 2009, I founded Freedom Solar, Inc.”

A decade after making his seminal transition, Rich says he continues to find gratification in his renewed livelihood. “I enjoy dealing directly with customers and seeing the end results of our work. It’s very satisfying when your job consists of installing products that save your customers money and benefit the environment at the same time.”

Originally from Chicago, Rich came to the Bay Area in the mid-1980s and today resides in San Carlos, where he appreciates the area’s many favorable attributes. “I like the pace, the diversity and the fact that we have a well-educated population,” he says. “Also, since I grew up in the Midwest flatlands, I really appreciate the climate and terrain.”

Outside of work, Rich engages in a number of active pastimes. “I’m a bit of a sports nut, so I enjoy both watching and participating in team sports,” he says. “I’ve coached youth sports for 25 years and served on several boards, so it’s been a real passion of mine.” Rich also likes traveling with wife, Susan, tracing his family’s genealogy and relaxing at the beach. Additionally, he takes time to keep in touch with his daughters, Aryn and Hannah, who are pursuing respective careers in the biotech and electrical engineering fields. “Between Susan, who’s a mechanical engineer, and myself, it’s no surprise that our daughters have an inclination toward math and science.”

As a professional in the solar industry, Rich says providing long-term value for his customers is of the utmost importance. “When I meet with a new customer, I look at them as someone I’m going to have a relationship with for the next 35 years, because that’s how long my product will last on their roof. That’s why I make sure every system we install provides a long-term solution. Not many products come with a 25-year warranty, so it really ups the ante when it comes to customer satisfaction.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Rich says he’d take a trip around the world. “I think it would be fun to circle the globe over the course of a year. My wife would be with me, of course, but if our daughters were able to get away and join us for part of it, that would make it even better.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?
A: Even though I haven’t lived there in more than 30 years, I’m still a fan of Chicago teams like the White Sox, Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks. Of course, being a long-time Bay Area resident, I also follow the local teams.

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
A: Yes, I played basketball.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Blue Line Pizza in San Carlos.

Q: What’s your favorite comic strip?
A: “In the Bleachers.”

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “The Sting.”

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Two Common Questions about Solar

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CAMPBELL — While a lot of homeowners are interested in solar energy, many have questions about the various aspects involved. Here are two common questions solar companies receive from consumers: Is solar a good investment? To answer this question, there… Read more

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Video: Two Common Questions about Solar Power

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CAMPBELL — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re interested in solar power but don’t know much about it, you’ll want to know the answers to two basic questions.… Read more

Karissa Gallo is a senior energy consultant at SolarUnion, a Diamond Certified company. She can be reached at (415) 236-2966 or by email.

Karissa Gallo

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Karissa Gallo: Renewable Enthusiasm

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO — Karissa Gallo started working in the renewable energy field while living in New York, but it wasn’t until she moved to sunny California that solar power became her primary focus. “I’ve always been passionate about making a difference for the environment,” she says. “I started out working for a company that sold wind and hydro power. When I decided to move from New York to California, I hoped to continue my career in the Green energy industry. Since I was coming to a state with lots of sunshine, solar seemed like the obvious way to go, so I got involved. It’s been great so far!”

Today, as a senior energy consultant at SolarUnion, Karissa says her favorite part of her job is the opportunity to make a positive impact. “By selling solar, we offer homeowners and businesses a lot of financial advantages, but on a deeper level, what we do actually affects the planet. That’s what gets me excited—to know what I’m doing is making a difference, both in people’s lives and for the greater global good.”

As a resident of Vallejo (where she lives with her partner, Mingo), Karissa says she appreciates her central proximity to all the Bay Area has to offer. “I love living near San Francisco, with all its culture, beautiful scenery and fun things to do. I also like the fact that we’re close to Lake Tahoe, which gives us easy access to the snow and outdoor activities.”

Outside of work, Karissa fills her free time with a wide range of creative and active pursuits. “Mingo and I are both musicians, and we have a band called Room of Voices that performs around the Bay Area,” she says. “We love to be creative and inspire others with our music. I also enjoy hiking, swimming, mountain biking, snowboarding—basically anything to do with nature, which is tied to my passion for protecting the environment.”

In regard to her professional career, Karissa espouses the value of taking a client-centered approach. “When working with clients, my main priority is to treat them the way I’d want to be treated,” she affirms. “Rather than taking a sales-like approach, I prefer to take on more of a consultant role, wherein I take the time to get to know my clients, ask questions and determine their needs. At the end of the day, this approach enables me to formulate the best option for each client’s particular needs.”

When asked the first thing she’d do if she were to retire tomorrow, Karissa says she would devote more time to charitable service. “Helping others has always been a passion of mine, so if I was no longer doing that through my work, I’d do it on a volunteer basis. I’m the kind of person who needs to feel like I’m having a positive impact, so that will continue to be a key aspect of whatever I’m doing.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I’ve always wanted to check out New Zealand and Australia. Like the Bay Area, I hear they both have really diverse landscapes, with beaches, snow and mountains.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: Definitely a dog person. I like cats, too, but usually just the ones that act like dogs.

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: Arti Indian Organic Natural Café in Lagunitas-Forest Knolls.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect music and giraffe paraphernalia. I have a small obsession with giraffes.

Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The drums.

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Optimizing Your Solar Energy System

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SAN FRANCISCO — When switching to solar energy, the goal is to achieve a full electric offset for 25 years—that is, 25 years with no electricity bills. However, in order to attain this level of energy production, you’ll need a system… Read more

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Video: Considerations for Solar Installation

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SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: When planning to purchase a solar energy system, it’s important to look beyond the panels and consider some lesser-known technical aspects.… Read more

Jamie Duran is president of Solar Harmonics Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 335-6905 or by email.

Jamie Duran

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Jamie Duran: A Solar Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

BRENTWOOD — Jamie Duran spent his early career working in an environment that stifled his entrepreneurial spirit, so when he saw an opportunity to start his own business, it was like a ray of sunlight piercing the dark. “Before getting into solar, I worked in finance,” he remembers. “I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, but there’s little opportunity to exercise that trait in the financial world. There are a lot of rules and, worse still, a lot of politics, so it was a constant uphill battle to affect any real, positive change.”

In the mid-2000s, Jamie took notice of an increasing trend toward clean energy, manifested by the rising popularity of electric vehicles and solar power. “As a resident of Brentwood, I was aware of the massive electricity bills local homeowners paid for heating and air conditioning, and I wondered whether solar power would be a good solution for them. After doing some research, I quickly concluded the answer was an overwhelming ‘yes.’ This, along with the significant environmental benefits offered by solar power, made me realize it was a perfect avenue for me to pursue professionally. In 2008, I founded Solar Harmonics Inc., and after more than a decade of perseverance and growth, we’re still going strong.”

Today, Jamie says his favorite part of his job is improving his clients’ lives. “For many of the people we work with, which includes young families, retirees and farmers, saving a few hundred dollars each month can make a substantial impact. It’s very rewarding to know the work we do directly enhances our customers’ quality of life.”

A lifelong resident of Brentwood (where he lives with his wife, Denise, and their three children), Jamie spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “Work is a huge part of my life, but I still make time for activities like cycling, skiing and traveling with my family. We like taking road trips to see national landmarks like Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone Park. Also, our kids are involved in theater, so we’re big supporters of that.”

When asked about a professional philosophy, Jamie espouses the importance of clear communication. “As a professional, if a customer asks you a question, you should respond, even if that answer is, ‘I don’t know, let me do some research to find out.’ Some questions can be satisfied with a short answer, whereas others require a long answer. With solar, it tends to be the latter. Personally, I love talking about solar—it’s my favorite subject. That’s why I’m always happy to answer my customers’ questions and educate them about the products and processes involved.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?

A: Cre Asian in Brentwood.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?

A: The Golden State Warriors

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?

A: I played tennis and was on the swim team.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A: Alaska. Our next family trip is going to be an Alaskan cruise, so that will be taken care of shortly.

Q: Music or talk radio?

A: Talk radio—podcasts, actually. I listen to a ton of podcasts and even host my own called Straight-Talk Solar Cast.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

A: An egg white omelet with bacon bits, cheese and Sriracha sauce.

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Energy Saving Tips for Your Swimming Pool

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BRENTWOOD — Everyone loves swimming pools, but no one loves the expenses required to maintain them. Between filtration and heating, a swimming pool consumes a lot of energy, which is anything but cheap, especially in California. Fortunately, there are a couple of… Read more

The Benefits of Solar for Commercial Properties

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BRENTWOOD — Nowadays, you hear a lot about how solar power can benefit homeowners, but what about the benefits it can bring to commercial property owners? The fact is, commercial property owners stand to gain as much as homeowners from solar… Read more

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Video: Solar Benefits for Commercial Properties

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BRENTWOOD — Host, Sarah Rutan: Everyone knows solar can save homeowners money, but did you know this also applies to business owners? Today we’re in Brentwood with Diamond… Read more

Sean O’Brien is a 40-year veteran of the roofing industry and general manager of Sierra Roofing & Solar, a Diamond Certified company since 2011. He can be reached at (510) 244-2720 or by email.

Sean O'Brien

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Sean O’Brien: Roofing Livelihood

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

DUBLIN — When Sean O’Brien first started roofing as a teenager, it was just a way to make money on the weekends—he never realized it would lead to a lifelong livelihood. “During high school, I had a friend whose dad owned a roofing company, so we got recruited to help out on the weekends,” he remembers. “After graduating, I wanted to get into some aspect of construction, and since I had some experience with roofing, I figured that would be an ‘in.’ So, I walked into the largest union roofing company in Sonoma County, met the owner and somehow convinced him to hire me. To this day, I appreciate him for giving me a chance, because I’ve enjoyed my career in the roofing industry very much.”

Today, as general manager of Sierra Roofing & Solar, Sean says his favorite part of his job is serving customers. “At the heart of it, we’re a service company, and the service side is what I enjoy most. I just like going to customers’ homes and being the guy who can provide the service they need. That’s always been the thing that drives me, and I continue to find it rewarding.”

A lifetime Bay Area resident, Sean says there’s no place he’d rather be. “I spent my younger years in Marin and Sonoma Counties before moving to the East Bay in 2003. After all these years, I still think the Bay Area is the greatest place on earth. The weather, the people, the beaches, the mountains, the redwood trees…I love this place!”

Outside of work, Sean engages in a variety of active pastimes, from sports to family gatherings. “I enjoy playing golf, going to San Francisco Giants games and hanging out with my family,” he says. “Besides my wife, Sharon, and my two grown children, Kevin and Christina, I have a lot of family in the area, including my mom, four sisters and several cousins, so we spend a lot of time together.” However, as much as Sean likes staying active, every so often he likes to just unwind. “Going to the beach is the number one way I like to relax. Now that I live in the East Bay, I go out to Half Moon Bay most weekends to enjoy the serenity of the ocean.”

In his life and career, Sean espouses the importance of maintaining a temperate perspective. “I’ve found it’s always best to consider the long term and not get too caught up in what’s happening in the moment—especially if things aren’t going your way,” he advises. “Instead of getting frustrated by a momentary setback, it’s better to look at the big picture and do the best you can. After all, even if today wasn’t your best day, you get another shot tomorrow morning. The same is true if you’re having a great day—you should take pride in doing well, but you should also keep in mind that tomorrow may not be as successful. Basically, it’s all about keeping an even keel and doing the best you can every day.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Sean says he’d head to the golf course. “If the weather was nice, the first thing I’d do is grab my clubs and play a round of golf while everybody else is at work and the course is empty. In the long term, I hope to do a lot of traveling. My wife is already semi-retired, so we’re starting to look at places we’d like to visit when that time arrives.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird—I can’t remember the last time I stayed up past 9:30pm.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving. It’s like Christmas but without all the stress of buying gifts—just good food and good times with family.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: I like them both. I usually toggle between NPR, sports talk and various music stations.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: My baseball. Give me a glove, a bat, and a ball and I was a happy kid.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Gummy bears.

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A Program To Maximize Roof Lifespan

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DUBLIN — Making the most of a new roof isn’t about paying less for it—at least, not upfront. The fact is, by investing in quality at the outset, you’re more likely to save money in the long term than you are… Read more

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Video: The Value of a Roof Maintenance Program

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DUBLIN — Host, Sarah Rutan: After having a new roof installed on your home, consider protecting your investment with a proactive maintenance program. Today we’re… Read more

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