Tell us a little about how solar work began as part of your company? What were the motivations?
Our company president, Charles Smith, is a solar pioneer who, as young as he can remember has always been interested in direct-from-source energy creation for our use. He has found that photovoltaic (PV) solar electrical power has proven to be one of the most viable ways to capture that energy.
When Current Electric first started installing solar, the PV systems were cost-prohibitive, except to early adopters who believed in helping provide options for our energy source or understood long-term investments such as a farmer understands the long-term investment in their land. Those early solar customers found that their systems eventually paid for themselves, and proved to be satisfied with their solar PV systems. Due to rising energy costs and return on investment calculations, those systems have now paid for themselves and continue to produce power and pay on their investment.
Now, more than 20 years later, the tide has turned. The price of the solar modules is down over 1000%, which is 10 times less than the cost our pioneer customers paid for solar. With rising energy prices and decreased system costs, the time to install solar is now.
Chuck believes that energy storage systems will eventually catch up with the energy production side of the solar equation, however, the solar electric production side of these systems has already come of age. Even so, about 40-50% of our solar customers choose to install battery backup systems along with their solar electric production system. This is because battery technology is a high-tech way of backing up their home or business. We do look forward to the time when energy storage comes down in price, although we have found maintaining a battery storage system seems to be less costly than maintaining a motor-driven backup generator. Current Electric has worked on both energy storage (UPS systems) and motor-driven generation for all of our 40 years of business.
What do your customers appreciate most about your work?
First and foremost, Current Electric has provided southeast Wisconsin with 5-star quality service for over 40 years. We are also one of the longest-standing solar installers in Wisconsin, having serviced the state for over 21 years. We work closely with local utilities and inspectors to set standards and best practices for their customers in order to streamline the solar process and ensure a greater overall solar experience. We understand that every job is different, and we customize each project to the unique needs and desires, for now, and in the future. Current Electric is a full-service electrical contractor; therefore, we aim to make you a lifelong Current customer. We are here to support your electrical needs after installation is complete. Our experienced team of electricians is here to handle all your electric, solar, energy storage, lighting, and recently electric vehicle charging needs. It is our quality service and innovation that sets us apart.
Tell us more about the different types of projects your company handles
Our solar team services everything from residential neighborhoods to commercial buildings with roof mounted and ground mount systems. We prioritize education for both our team and our customers, and work closely with them to achieve this goal. We are happy to provide our training and presentation to local fire departments, home inspectors, and host Solar 101 seminars for our local communities. Current Electric is also proud to have been involved in building many of Wisconsin’s Native American communities’ solar energy systems in order to become a more carbon-free energy-provided planet.
What does your team think about from one install to the next…
Current Electric considers our mission to be a school of training and our culture supports constant improvement. Our training starts with Safety first as we make sure every upcoming job will have the necessary safety equipment ready to perform the work in a safe, secure manner. We then organize our workflow efficiently for all parties involved. This starts with the site layout and design to review every possibility. Our designers and lead installers review each project step to make sure we are providing the best design for every given situation.
From material selection to conduit layout, we understand the devil is in the details to provide the best solutions for our customers. We review the pre site visit notes that our sales department and technical designers acquire to ensure every step of the installation is delivered by improving our best practices. Our One-Line Diagrams tell the story and keep a record of the installation to make sure equipment, location, and expectations are all set before we are on site until long after the system has been running for decades. This ensures the system will perform as it should for decades to come. Our material review process is important to ensure the system will last the test of time. We are always learning Improvements from our previous projects. We look back at previous jobs and use that information to help the team. Constant improvement from one job to the next is our main goal for every installation.
What has been your experience with supply chain issues over the past year or few years?
The recent supply chain shortages have posed a significant challenge across all industries, particularly for those relying on solar, electrical, and wiring components. To ease supply issues and shortages, our Current Electric team has worked closely with the utilities and local inspectors to innovate and educate new ways of interconnection, as well as partnering with new suppliers throughout the country. In addition, we have worked to maintain larger volumes of supplies in our warehouses to be prepared for our customer’s needs and keep installations moving forward.
Tell us about making an impact in your communities…
We recently installed solar for a retirement community, as well as several assisted living center buildings that are a part of that community. The residents were passionate about making a difference for our planet and for the generations to come. We were able to help them help all of us.
We think about the impact, and how we have changed the lives of thousands of families and created an environment more sustainable than yesterday. We want the world to go solar, and it starts one project at a time.
Tell us about the most interesting or unique system you have installed.
There have been many unique and interesting solar projects that we have been fortunate enough to be a part of. Among these, an exceptional project worth mentioning is our involvement in a large Milwaukee Area High School with 17 different roof sections, which demanded 5 days of crane lifts. Coordinating approximately 1 megawatt of solar power (which equates to approximately 3000 modules) and laying over 6 miles of electrical wire. It was challenging but challenges are what our Current Electric Team Members look forward to.
Tell us about your company’s operations
Our operations team is composed of career professionals and an ownership team of over 100 years of experience in all areas of the industry. Our management team has been hand-picked from our company ranks and is supported with continuous education and training in all areas of project management. Our field teams start each day with a huddle, setting daily goals, and job site hazard analysis to ensure safety. We strive for effective communication to ensure delivery of results.
Current Electric and its employees are passionate about solar for our communities and our planet. We are Licensed NABCP Professionals and Inspectors and work hand-in-hand with the best of the solar community such as Legacy Solar Co-op, MREA, Solar Energy International, RENEW WI, and the Wisconsin Firefighters Association. We offer a wide array of electrical services for homes and commercial properties throughout Milwaukee and the surrounding areas. Services include electrical on new construction and remodeling projects, service panel upgrades, outlet and switch services, lighting design and installation, whole-home generator installation and maintenance, low voltage projects, solar panel and battery installations, EV charging stations, and a full range of electrical repairs. Current Electric also runs an organization called “Current Cares” for which we donate our time and money to vicarious causes to help our community.