In this “People Behind the Policies” blog, we hear from one of the founders of Maryland-based Astrum Solar and learn how their business relates to our goal to Increase Maryland’s In-State renewable generation 20% by 2022.
You’ve probably driven past them and not even noticed. For the past five years, more and more citizens of Maryland have been putting solar panels on their roof and producing the power that runs their television, microwave and computer themselves. The electricity they are producing is clean solar energy produced by systems installed by Maryland companies and Maryland workers.
Astrum Solar is one of the companies helping to bring solar to Maryland homes. Started in 2008 by Vadim Polikov, Josh Goldberg and Ben Davis (Vadim and Josh are Maryland natives) and headquartered in Howard County, Astrum has installed nearly 1,000 solar electric systems in Maryland alone. Astrum Solar’s mission is to spread solar power to the rooftops of America. More and more people around the country are ready to take control of their unpredictable utility costs and reduce their electricity bills and carbon footprints. When they make that decision, Astrum is there to guide them and make going solar easy and rewarding.
With that mission, in under five years Astrum Solar has expanded to twelve states, created 100 Maryland jobs and been named the 2nd fastest growing company in the nation by Inc. Magazine. As Astrum has grown, Maryland as a state has seen an explosive growth in solar installations. In the past 22 months alone, solar capacity in the state has grown by approximately 700%. This growth was made possible by considered policies put in place by the state years ago. Maryland instituted a broad but responsible grant program that seeded the market by helping home and business owners afford the upfront cost associated with solar. Maryland also affirmed its commitment to clean energy by demanding that a percentage of its power be produced by clean sources, specifically solar. These policies are largely the result of the smart government and vision of Governor Martin O’Malley, a trusted partner of Astrum Solar.
The solar industry has changed a lot since Maryland took those first steps. Declines in the cost of materials have made solar affordable for everyone without state assistance. Accordingly, the grant has decreased dramatically. Advances in financing now allow people to go solar for no money down. The market for solar is taking off nation-wide, and Maryland has positioned itself to benefit from the economic development and local jobs that come with this expansion. And let’s not forget that this growth helps Maryland to preserve its air and water quality while limiting its dependence on foreign fuels.
Despite this initial success, there is much more to do. Renewables and solar are still only emerging as major power sources and Astrum Solar has considerable growth ahead of it. Maryland will need to continue to take appropriate and considered steps toward a clean energy future to preserve and expand the considerable gains it has already made. As it does this, Astrum Solar will continue to grow and give Maryland citizens the ability to choose clean, affordable, self-produced electricity.
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