Hannah Solar

Creating a solar powerhouse
Written by: 
Ivy Carter
Produced by: 
Drew Taylor

Inspired by the mounting solar trend in the United States, Pete Marte established Hannah Solar in 2007 from a spare bedroom in his home. Marte made his entrepreneurial move at just the right time, as the cost of solar was beginning to decrease while demand was rising. Hannah Solar was about to see bright times ahead on the horizon.

From a business perspective, Marte described a key resource that influenced his early move toward the renewable segment. “Solar Revolution by Travis Bradford was a technical read on where the economics of solar were in 2006 and 2007,” he elaborates.

It highlighted the trend lines of solar in the U.S. and described how the industry was becoming more and more competitive with traditional power generation methods. “Those trend lines that Bradford wrote about then, crossed about two years ago when the cost of solar became less expensive than those other energy sources,” Marte details. With a range of federal and state-level tax incentives, he says that 2015 is a great time to invest in solar.

Hannah Solar clients can realize a 30 percent federal investment tax credit, plus depreciation that, when combined with electric power savings, most often results in a five to six year payback, with 65 percent or more of the initial investment coming back to customers through tax-based incentives. One of the bigger priorities is convincing businesses about the benefits of taking the tax incentives, reducing the reliance on traditional energy delivery and cutting long-term energy costs, which continue to rise.

Building a reputation of excellence

Hannah Solar’s market share continues to grow exponentially by catering to the needs of a range of industries – specializing in commercial solar arrays for the manufacturing, agricultural, warehouse and retail markets, as well as for municipalities. Hannah Solar’s crews can be dispatched to anywhere in the country from Atlanta headquarters with the ability to integrate solar energy solutions at any scale.

The company’s portfolio includes several notable projects performed in complex settings with measurable and successful outcomes. “We excel in a marketplace where many others fall short,” Marte explains. “We’re a full-service, turnkey integrator and licensed electrical contractor. Hannah fulfills both ends of the proposition: selling the technology and then installing it properly. The installation and electrical side is a real challenge and many of our peers sub out that work. We, on the other hand, have a full-time installation staff of nearly 45 people today.”

The company takes it one step further. “Our installations come with a one-year workmanship guarantee and a five-year operations maintenance agreement,” Marte continues. “Solar doesn’t perform flawlessly without a little TLC – the inverters have to work properly, the panels have to be kept clean and the grass has to be cut. Operations and maintenance have been a part of our business since the very beginning. We offer our clients a way to keep their systems running optimally.”

A business with a bright future

While the business has had lasting success in more typical markets for solar, such as installations at regional companies, Marte and his experienced team have been building a strong presence in the agricultural sector. The business has worked with growers along the entire spectrum of the agriculture industry, including peanut, cotton and livestock farmers.

A notable project for Birdsong Peanut Growers stands out as a strong example of Hannah Solar’s capabilities. At the company’s shelling and drying facilities in Colquitt, Georgia, Hannah installed a 1-megawatt solar array to offset energy use and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

“Their investment will help them offset long-term energy costs while giving the operation a competitive advantage in the market by meeting sustainability requirements required by their own customers,” Marte states. “It’s a win-win.”

While the scope of each project tends to fall within a certain expected trajectory, Marte notes there’s something special about working with growers. “For a farmer, generally speaking, their land is part of their core value system and many of these clients are second or third generation growers, which is far different than a chief financial officer at a corporation,” he elaborates. “These people are taking into consideration the future of the farm and their family, considering previous generations and coming generations before making their investment in solar.”

The company also completed a project for Dixon Farm Supply. “Initially, we were going to install a ground array in a field they hadn’t used in a long time that was occupied by a mixed bag of items,” Marte details. “Once they cleaned the space to install the solar, the family asked, ‘That’s now usable land, so why cover it in solar panels?’ I explained the solution; we ended up constructing a solar covered storage building to allow the owners to utilize the newfound space and have solar.”

“Our vision is to provide the very best in solar engineering, products, installation and servicing – delivering meaningful energy production, creating favorable economic return, environmental benefits and exceptional experiences for all of our customers – always and without exception,” Marte says proudly.

Looking ahead, Marte sees continued growth in the agricultural sector by tapping into the financial and sustainability goals of growers. And by working closely with growers and clients alike, Hannah Solar is applying its’ expertise gained throughout nearly a decade of operation to continue driving explosive growth in all markets throughout the coming years.