Strong Teams, Growing Companies: Norwich Solar

Norwich Solar founder Joel Stettenheim

Business NH, August 2016

When it comes to solar energy companies, those based in Northern New England aren’t usually top of mind. Norwich Solar wants to change that idea. “New Hampshire and Vermont are great places for solar,” says Norwich president Joel Stettenheim. “Germany has even less solar resources than we do, yet it powers the whole country on sunny summer days because of its solar infrastructure.”

Stettenheim and Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Troy McBride, started Norwich Tech in 2011 in White River Junction, Vt., hoping to positively impact both the environment and the business community.

“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time,” says Stettenheim. “Both Troy and I were motivated by that and the business opportunities that are now available.”

Photovoltaic (PV) arrays — also known as “solar panels” — turn sunlight into electricity. An inverter then turns the raw DC power produced by PV cells into AC power, the electricity used in homes and businesses. But Norwich Tech has disrupted this industry by not only what it does, but how.

“Traditional solar installations are a little like having a company come and build an appliance like a refrigerator or washing machine at your house,” says Stettenheim of how those firms typically bring various panels, inverters, rooftop frames, and other equipment to a site with legions of workers. It can take days transporting components, assembling the arrays and installing them and delays often occur due to unpredictable weather.

Norwich Tech has optimized the entire production from its assembly facility in West Lebanon, NH. The company builds arrays of four to nine panels, mounts them on racking systems and then tests the arrays—all before ever leaving the facility. Systems can be expanded to meet the customer’s needs. Even a NH winter is no longer a prohibitive factor as much of the work is completed indoors.