More Than Photovoltaics: Modern Energy’s Solar Experience

DUBLIN, Ohio – When one thinks of Ohio, it is far more likely they picture fields of corn, than fields of solar installations. Yet, from energy efficient appliances to solar photovoltaics (PV), Ohio electric consumers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce their ecological footprint without losing convenience and supply.

Solar power is becoming more common across the country as the clean energy conversation gains momentum, and solar PV installation companies like Johnathan Gioffre’s Modern Energy are furthering this transition. Modern Energy is providing environmentally and economically conscious Ohioans a way to transition from traditional power sources to solar energy.

Taking Care of Business

Before Modern Energy Johnathan gained experience in planning and implementing projects through his time with College Works Painting. This national internship teaches students how to responsibly run a business for the benefit of themselves and the community.

In 2012, even before he graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Finance and a minor in Economics, Johnathan decided to expand on this experience by starting his own company, Modern Energy. Initially, Modern Energy’s main service was assisting customers in reducing their energy consumption, through energy audits and assessments

Johnathan had always wanted to work with solar – because of his passion for technology – and when the market for solar in Ohio took off in 2015, he decided to officially add solar photovoltaic (PV) system installation to his company’s services. Modern Energy transitioned away from assisting residential and commercial customers with energy efficiency needs towards facilitating personal energy production.

To Johnathan, his company’s biggest accomplishment is not based on awards or public recognition, but on the renewable energy generated from his projects. He is happy that they can reduce fossil fuel consumption by providing consumers with a cleaner option.

Johnathan finds that clients choose Modern Energy over other solar providers because of the trust the company has developed, which is evident by great reviews left by previous customers. The company also offers lower prices by using local and national suppliers such as McNaughton-McKay and CivicSolar, providing high quality products for less. Lastly, Johnathan asserts that central Ohioans likely feel more comfortable buying from Modern Energy because they are local and provide installations with a 10-year labor warranty.

As his company has grown, Johnathan’s priorities have not changed. Modern Energy’s devotion to its customers and the close-knit relationship between employees have maintained the feeling of a “family business,” which helps customers feel secure.

A Prudent Business Model

Although federal tax incentives decrease by 4% at the end of this year, Johnathan does not anticipate a drop-in business. In fact, Modern Energy’s prospective client base has increased this year.

The continuing decline in the price of solar modules, even as tax incentives are being taken away, is making the transition to solar more appealing nationwide as a means of achieving economic gain as well as environmental conservation. And the number of Americans that are realizing the benefits of renewable energy is growing, specifically for solar.

Johnathan has paired his background in finance with this increasing support for solar to ensure Modern Energy always remains economically sustainable in its growth. A self-proclaimed, “conservative businessman,” Johnathan never exaggerates what Modern Energy can provide for its clients. His transparency and financial stability reassure his customers confidence in the company’s intent, price estimates, and solar installations.

Johnathan knows exactly what his company has to offer and promises his customers only what he knows he can deliver, based on their wants and needs. This stability provides peace of mind to new and existing customers.

An Informed Investment

With efficiency and conservation at the heart of their business model, Modern Energy urges customers to pay attention to their energy consumption, recommending monitoring systems that allow them to track where they are using energy 24/7.

These systems note which appliances are using the most power based on their unique electrical signature, activated when the appliance is turned on. Modern Energy recommends a smart computer called SENSE for residential projects and one called CURB for commercial. This is a modern way to track energy use, ensuring customers can make informed decisions about where to reduce consumption.

Johnathan also suggests adding backup generators or batteries to each solar installation to serve as a supply of power if grid connection is lost (such as during a power outage). He notes that “generators are more economical than batteries” because current battery technology is expensive for large or long-term storage, but Modern Energy can include either in any of their projects.

By offering these additions beyond solar module installation, “Modern Energy makes energy technology simple and easy.” These extensions help customers looking for clean power generation not only fulfill this goal but also reduce their overall consumption without losing convenience.

Moving Towards Micro-Grids

Although Johnathan admits that it may be a lofty goal, he anticipates a “move away from the singular macro-grid we currently have towards individual micro-grids” where each home has its own system. This would allow total energy independence from utility companies.

One way that Johnathan sees his company being part of this transition is through its support for hybrid solar PV systems. He has always “been interested in hybrid systems, knowing they were what people would want in the future.” When he was first starting his solar business, he even “flew out to Sacramento to work with a company who was also interested in hybrid solar power” and the pairing “built a hybrid system right here in Dublin, Ohio.”

Hybrid PV arrays are growing in popularity because they prevent the stoppage of power that occurs when current systems lose grid connection. They take just seconds to switch on to power computer” that switches on if power ceases, saving important data and providing continuous use.

Solar PV systems installed within the past few years can be turned into hybrid PV systems by installing only a few parts. As this technology is being explored more by companies like Enphase Energy, another one of Modern Energy’s partners, Johnathan knows that he will recommend them to his new and existing solar customers.

Micro-grids are becoming more common as consumers realize the economic and environmental benefits of using multiple power inputs to become self-sustaining. Johnathan acknowledges that the transition away from the current utility-tied macro-grid is still a few years out, but thinks that hybrid PV systems are a step towards total grid independence.

The Future of Modern Energy

Overall, Johnathan has found that Ohio is a great market for solar power, and it is does not come as a surprise. Johnathan has long-held belief that solar power would be, “a major part of the energy industry in the future” as the world transitioned away from fossil fuels.

In spite of the limited controversy over the aesthetics of solar arrays, Johnathan has found the biggest threat to the growth of solar energy in Ohio to be consumer knowledge. Many Ohioans incorrectly assume that we do not get enough sun, as compared to states like Arizona, to make solar economically viable.

Johnathan has run into this issue frequently in his efforts to grow his business, but sees it slowly remedied as residents learn that most Ohio properties are well suited for solar power. He explains to his prospective customers that the payback period may be a couple of years longer here than in states like Arizona, but the panels will continue to produce power long after they have been paid off – providing “free” energy for that home or business.

Johnathan is proud that his employees no longer have to go out and “annoy people asking them if they would consider a transition to solar.” He finds that the more people learn about the benefits of solar, the less customers need to be persuaded. Now, customers come to them ready to install solar, conscious of their decision to come to Modern Energy. As more Ohioans realize how viable solar energy is for homes here, Johnathan anticipates his company growing alongside the solar industry.

Modern Energy “bends over backwards for its customers” and provides up-to-date technologies beyond just panels and inverters. Johnathan’s commitment to his clients and conservative business model make him confident that he can continue assisting residents of Ohio in producing renewable energy for years to come.

By: Allison South