Piedmont Company Ranks Among Top US Solar Contractors
Almost every state in the nation produces more solar energy than South Dakota, but that hasn’t stopped a South Dakota company from becoming one of the nation’s top solar contractors.
GenPro Energy Solutions began selling solar water pumps for livestock in 2003. Seventeen years later, people at the company’s growing Piedmont plant are doing all kinds of energy-related things.
They design and install solar panels all over the world. They make LED lighting systems and deploy them on a massive scale, like a recent project to re-light all of Ellsworth Air Force Base. They sell standby generators. They even sell tabletop UVC lights to disinfect indoor air.
The company’s varied expertise amazed Congressman Dusty Johnson during a recent tour.
“You guys do everything," Johnson said.
Dwight Patterson is the company's founder and CEO. He said the solar boom is a major factor in the company’s growth. Better and cheaper ways to store electricity are lowering the cost of solar systems compared to other forms of energy.
“Most folks are probably used to paying somewhere between 8 and 12 cents a kilowatt-hour in the state of South Dakota," Patterson said. "We can produce systems that have a levelized cost of energy below 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.”
GenPro's success has been recognized by Solar Power World, which ranked the company 129th this year in a list of the top 407 solar contractors in the country.
Meanwhile, South Dakota lags every state except North Dakota in solar-power generation, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
-Seth Tupper is SDPB's business and economic development reporter.