Lenape Solar moved into its headquarters on 2nd street in Sunbury in the spring of 2011. At that time, owners and founders Tonya Ditty and Justin Charles set out on a mission to not only make Lenape (pronounced Len-A-pee) the biggest and the best solar installation company in the Central Susquehanna Valley (and beyond), but also to build community. With hard work, determination and dedication to their employees, community and customers, they did that in less than 2 years.
From a start-up of just 7 employees, Lenape now employs 20 full time and 2 part time employees with the expectation to continue expanding their staff again this year. Lenape is a full service Solar company including doing our own installation. This allows us to see a customer through the process from start (initial interview, site exploration, etc.) through design, funding, grant writing, permitting and installation, to finish – reviewing the personalized Owner’s Manual, Municipal Inspections, document submissions, etc. With a company our size, all employees who work on the project are able to talk with each other easily and frequently so that each project gets consistent, quality attention.
President, Tonya Ditty, has led the company through some economically trying times. As our nation’s economy continued to struggle, local solar companies were severely impacted. At the critical time when Lenape Solar was just getting started, many other solar companies were closing their doors due to low sales and diminishing state incentives. What makes Lenape Solar so different? How were they able to not only successfully navigate the recession; but also increase their previous year’s sales by 58% in year 1, 28% in year 2 and 48% in year 3? Strategic diversification, dedication to quality, optimally trained and managed construction teams and an unprecedented commitment to their clients; all of which are Tonya’s proven areas of expertise. Tonya is a native to Sunbury, born and raised in the area. Her father was a fellow entrepreneur and business owner as a partner in Brush Industries. Her grandparents were both school teachers in the neighboring Line Mountain school district. Tonya is proud to follow in her family’s footsteps by contributing to the community as well as the local economy.
Vice President, Justin Charles, a young genius in his own right with professional experience on both East and West Coasts, quickly mastered the intricacy of the technology, and began the search for American products that represented the best possible product partnerships. Choosing the most appropriate components manufactured by reputable companies with exceptional warranties while continuing the commitment to American product manufacturing was quite an undertaking. After obtaining (4) Associates Degrees from Anne Arundel Community College at the age of 16, Justin fell in love with the Susquehanna River Valley while achieving a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Bucknell University. Justin was quick to put down roots of his own and call the valley his permanent home.
Gathering employees with extensive and varied experience creates a strong and diversified team. One of the first questions always asked is “Do you have your own installers?” the answer is yes, all of Lenape Solar installations are completed by staffed employees that have specialized training in their specific area of expertise. Leading the installation teams is Project Manager Manuel Criado who joined Lenape in 2012. Manny, as the staff refers to him, has extensive experience as a Lineman, having managed and lead disaster relief teams across the United States for more than 12 years. In this past life, Manny specialized in re-establishing electric service for major electric companies that had suffered a massive natural disaster. After having spent a lifetime on the road and on call 24/7, Manny was ready to establish a long-term relationship with a local company while also taking root in the community with his family.
Lenape Solar started out specializing in solar energy generation. Specifically Photovoltaic Solar Energy and Solar Thermal Energy generation systems. In January of 2012, Lenape Solar branched out as a Trade Alley with PPL to facilitate the Direct Discount Program for local businesses, municipalities, schools, nonprofits and institutions. At last count, Lenape Solar was proud to announce that they were currently saving consumers an amazing 8,120,312 kWh of electricity annually. That 8 million kWh of electricity roughly equates to a savings of $1,055,640 a year. That was several months ago; the savings has increased significantly since then and will continue to increase by leaps and bounds.
Essentially that means that thanks to Lenape Solar, local residents, municipalities and businesses are able to put more than 1 million dollars back into their own pockets and our local economy - just by conserving energy. Who would have ever thought it would be that easy? At the same time, remember the commitment to local product partnerships? Lenape Solar purchases the majority of their products from Friedman Electric in Selinsgrove, a distributor of a multitude of electrical products. Through Friedman Electric, Lenape Solar has chosen an exclusive relationship with SIMKAR, a lighting manufacturer based in Philadelphia PA. Therefore, not only are local residents and businesses benefiting from this aggressive young company but the state of Pennsylvania is as well. Company VP, Justin Charles continually strives to keep the benefits local, it is in fact one of his unwavering commitments.
Lenape Solar touts an impressive list of clientele in both Solar Energy as well as Lighting Retrofits. Multiple Counties, including Northumberland County and Snyder County have appreciated significant annual savings through Lighting Retrofit projects. City Police Stations, Street Departments, City Halls, DUI Centers, Tax Offices as well as many Borough and Township Police Stations, Sewer Authorities, Water Plants, Libraries and more have all benefited from significant yearly savings through the Direct Discount Program facilitated by local power companies through the ACT 129 Compliance Rider.
Many people have differing opinions about “government” subsidies for alternative energy and/or energy reduction programs. What many people don’t know is that most of us, as individuals and businesses, are already paying for these programs – whether we use them or not. The only real way to benefit from the money you pay into the program is if you in fact utilize the program. We often suggest folks look at their most recent electric bill, within the breakdown of the Charges for PPL Electric Utilities (for most of the Susquehanna Valley) you will find a line item titled “Act 129 Compliance Rider”. If you are a consumer of an electric company that has more than 100,000 customers, you have been paying this amount for over 4 years. The more energy you use, the higher the price you pay per month.
Another unique offering from Lenape Solar is the Grant Writing services offered to small businesses. Lenape Solar has written a considerable number of USDA REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) Grant applications over the last three years. These are competitive grants that are awarded on a point system that is dictated by many factors including technical merit, qualifications of the installation company and its installers, quality components, community support, etc. Lenape Solar is quite proud to state that 100% of the Grant Applications that they have written and submitted have been fully funded. A REAP Grant can reduce the price of installation by as much as 25% for many alternative energy and energy efficiency projects.
If you’re a small business, municipality, nonprofit, manufacturing plant, school or institution interested in reducing your electrical costs and increasing your bottom line, it’s worth a call to Lenape Solar. The right choice, for all the right reasons.
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