The year was 1976. Before “going green” was the worldwide movement that it is today, Lane Garrett left his job to become an entrepreneur in energy management and conservation. By 1992, he had formed ETA Engineering, a distribution and engineering business specializing in various solar products. After distributors suggested that forming a separate company for installation would be a wise strategic marketing move, Garrett founded Dependable Solar Products in 2005.
Although ETA had been in business for more than a decade by the time Dependable Solar Products was founded, like any new business it ran into some difficulties.
“The challenges were capitalization to build the company, which was provided by stockholders,” Garrett says, adding that “getting the word out and getting some name recognition” was another issue.
Luckily, since ETA had been operating for several years, “we had all the technical expertise, engineering and experience, so that wasn’t a problem,” Garrett says.
Together, ETA Engineering and Dependable Solar Products have helped to put Arizona on the map for solar energy. ETA Engineering offers a full line of renewable energy products and services, and also designs systems such as photovoltaic power plants. They currently have projects in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, with more on the way including three in South Africa. Dependable Solar primarily installs solar modules (panels), as well as conducting some wind work.
“We do installations for power companies, industrial applications, as well as homeowners,” Garrett says.
The sizes of the systems vary, ranging from smaller systems that are just over a kilowatt in size, all the way up to large megawatt-plus size.
“If we look at the range of systems depending on size of homes and how much energy people use, it would go from usually 3 kilowatts (as a small system) to 10 kilowatts or more for some of the local people located in the mountains. Typically three to four range in size,” Garrett says.
In addition to the solar services it provides, Dependable Solar Products offers a multitude of green products.
“We provide a range of conservation — green — and energy-generating products such as wind turbines, lighting of all types, swimming pool circulation pumps, remote systems (off the utility grid and running 100 percent on solar), photovoltaic modules, high efficiency air conditioning, insulation (and more),” Garrett says.
The company also installs high-efficiency appliances, solar-powered golf cars, and even self-composting toilets. Essentially, the company has the ability to work in any area where electricity is used.
Currently, Dependable Solar Products has two locations, one in Scottsdale and one in Mesa. However, Garrett hopes to expand significantly in the coming year.
“We are planning this year to set up locations in Tucson, Denver, Albuquerque (N.M.) and Northern Mexico,” he says. “We hope to continue to grow at a rapid rate.”
While Arizona has sunshine to spare, incentives in other states make them more appealing solar energy destinations. However, in recent years this has changed significantly. Tax credits and the return on investment for solar energy are increasing, giving consumers more reasons to switch to solar.
“With the corporation commission and a lot of push through the Legislature, that situation is changing and now Arizona is much more competitive with other states.
“GPEC (Greater Phoenix Economic Council) and other organizations in the state have been working to change (incentives). The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association has been active in changing incentives. I think chances of additional improvements are looking much better,” Garrett says.
With the rising cost of energy, solar is becoming the leading alternative for many and Garrett is thrilled to see that his long-time passion is finally becoming a reality.
“It’s one of the best investments you can make,” Garrett says. “I’ve been wishing for the coming growth, and to see it now is my favorite aspect.”