With Mr. Sun deal, Tom Kelly looks on solar's brighter side

Tom Kelly's company purchased Mr. Sun Solar because customers increasingly want the renewable energy form to power their homes.

Tom Kelly's company purchased Mr. Sun Solar because customers increasingly want the renewable energy form to power their homes. 

Neil Kelly Co. is expanding its design-build reach into a renewable energy area that’s lately taken its hits.

But the Kelly team’s purchase of Portland-based solar design and installation specialist Mr. Sun Solar comes at a good time for contractors. Tom Kelly, Neil Kelly’s president, noted that homeowners considering solar panels can receive incentives and tax credits that cover up to 75 percent of their costs.

“People might think, why is Tom getting into the solar business when there’s all this going on with big manufacturers?” said Kelly. “The reality is, that’s the manufacturing side, not the installation side. The turmoil is on the manufacturing side because there’s an oversupply and prices have been coming down.

“But for a retail installation company, the price is getting more affordable for the consumer, so the market’s better than it was five years ago. Sure, the manufacturers’ issues are relevant for us, but it’s more indicative that costs are coming down for the consumer.’

Kelly pointed to a $25,000 system he installed in his own home in 2006. That system would cost $17,000 today.

“That’s a big decline in pricing, and by the time you take the tax credits and Energy Trust (of Oregon) credits, the cost to the homeowner is so low, it ends up being a 10-year payback,” he said.

Portland-based Mr. Sun Solar’s seven employees, including President John Patterson, will immediately join Neil Kelly Co. The move will boost the Kelly company's revenue by 25 percent, with the company expecting to reach about $27 million this year. Kelly and Patterson didn’t reveal financial terms of the deal.

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