Chad Gessin, VP at Chatham Energy Solutions, took HeatSpring’s “Solar Installer Boot Camp” in June 2011 while he was developing the solar division in a third-generation construction development company. Read below for the full story and join HeatSpring facebook page:, to keep up to date with more case studies.

Continuing A Family Business

Chatham Energy Solutions, based in New York City, is an affiliate of Chatham Development Company, a leading residential and commercial real estate development and construction enterprise in the New York Metro Area.  Chad’s grandfather started Gessin Electrical Contractors, a small electrical contracting company, back in the 1950s.  By the late 1980s, Chad’s father shifted his focus into real estate development and started Chatham Development Company, which has developed and constructed five residential buildings in New York City and more than fifteen hundred luxury homes and commercial projects throughout Long Island.  Chatham Energy Solutions leverages this expertise to offer solar systems, consulting services and expert project financing for all types of commercial buildings.

Use your Background to Position Yourself in the Solar Market

Two years ago, when the slowdown began to affect the residential building market, Chad attended a packed homeowner informational seminar sponsored by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).  While he didn’t find solar technology new, impressive or challenging, the economics caught his attention. Since the residential market was highly competitive, Chatham Energy decided to position itself in the commercial sector, where financing, not technology or marketing muscle, is a major issue to building owners.

Move up the Supply Chain If you Can

Over the next few months, Chatham Energy built test systems to get its feet wet and better understand the design process and labor time needed for installation. During the last four months, Chad and his team have been serving  as consultants and owner’s representatives to other large developers and property owners. Currently, Chatham Energy’s working as an owner’s rep on a 750kW system on 15 affordable housing units in Boston. Taking advantage of the federal 30% Investment Tax Credit, Chatham Energy was able to finance the remaining 70% of the cost of the system.

Chatham Energy’s consulting work reaffirmed that its understanding of development and the packaging of financing combined with its engineering and structural expertise would have high value in the commercial solar power market.   The company is now doing installations and has many large-scale New York projects in the works. Its focus is on 25 – 75 kW systems in the New York metro area, Connecticut and larger commercial systems in New Jersey.

Takeaways from Chatham Energy Solutions

  • While technical knowledge of solar is still an important factor, it is starting to provide less of an advantage in the market;
  • The value in the solar supply chain is shifting.  Five years ago, understanding solar and how to size systems provided a significant advantage. This is currently shifting; organizations that understand financing, structural and civil engineering (for ground mounts), and client relationship are gaining more leverage;
  • The lack of consistent and clear policies is still negatively affecting the development on a state-by-state level.