September 9, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM EDT
The Boston Foundation
75 Arlington Street
10th floor
Boston, MA 02116
The special event celebrates the release of Philip Warburg’s new book, Harness the Sun: America’s Quest for a Solar-Powered Future. From inner-city neighborhoods and industrial wastelands to the open desert, the book traces solar energy’s remarkable ascent and introduces readers to a surprising collection of pioneers transforming the way we power the American economy.


Please come, show your support for Mr. Warburg, as well as your interest in a green future for America. And, say hi to Beaumont Solar’s CEO Phil Cavallo while you’re there!

Here’s a brief sample from Mr. Harburg’s book, where he’s offers an account of Phil Cavallo’s purchase of Beaumont Sign Company and subsequent transformation of it into the Beaumont Solar Company:

Harbor the Sun

Finally, someone has to get the equipment installed and make sure it runs properly. For several of the New Bedford projects, that key role has been played by a century-old sign-company-turned-solar-integrator. When Phil Cavallo bought Beaumont Sign Company in 2006, it was a frugal operation run by the family’s third generation. Its customers ranged from chain stores to area banks, and its revenues were about $2 million per year. A native of greater Philadelphia who had logged in nearly three decades as a self-described serial entrepreneur, Phil had done everything from designing missile guidance systems for Raytheon to launching telecom start-ups. It was time, he felt, to go local. “I had flown all over the world doing business for big corporate America;” he tells me. “I wanted more of a community-based business where I could give back in ways and develop a relationship in ways that I hadn’t been able to do in any other job”

Phil’s initial intention was just to keep on selling big commercial signs. It only took a few months, though, for his entrepreneurial drive to kick in. He looked at Beaumont Sign’s 1,800 loyal customers and said to himself, “There’s something else we can sell to those customers besides signs.” Initially he thought of small-scale wind turbines. Turning to a colleague at Beaumont, he asked: “Hey, is there a big difference between putting up a wind turbine and putting up a billboard? It’s got a foundation, it’s got a tower, it’s got a sign at the top.” The colleague was OK with the idea, so they gave it a try. After being hired by the State to take down twenty-two turbines that were improperly permitted, they set about building some new ones, but the slow pace of moving wind proposals through local planning bodies sapped their ardor.

Phil then turned his focus to solar. Reading Inc. magazine, he was impressed to see that PayPal tycoon, Tesla creator, and SolarCity bankroller Elon Musk had been named 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year. What really struck him was the scuttlebutt that SolarCity might go public, even though it had only been launched the previous year. “From VC [venture capital J and working in the Valley, I knew that, to go public, you need to have an unfair competitive advantage, you have to be in discontinuous innovation, and you have to have huge market cap potential:’

Phil’s vernacular swings sharply between the heady lingo of a venture capitalist and the down-home jargon of a community entrepreneur. One moment he’s back “in the Valley.” The next he’s in gritty, workaday New Bedford. ‘I’m lookin’ at this install business, and I’m goin’ Hey, we can install signs on rooftops. We can do this all day long-laggin’ ‘em into roofs. Why can’t we install solar panels? “‘ He lost no time jumping into this new field. In a training program for solar installers offered by a leading PV manufacturer, he remembers a moment when one of his classmates quipped: “You know the definition of a successful solar company?” The guy paused for effect before answering his own question: “An electrical engineer with a backhoe.” As a trained electrical engineer with a yard full of sign-installation equipment, Phil had a somewhat different response: “I got a crane truck- better than a backhoe! “

Starting small, Phil sent Beaumont crews to install a few arrays on residential rooftops in neighboring Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He calls this the “off-Broadway performance scenario’: Soon enough, he had twenty-plus home solar contracts on his desk, and his new line of business was drawing the attention of the local media. It was the right moment to make the leap to larger projects, and to give the company a new name: Beaumont Solar. The timing was perfect, as BlueWave’s DeVillars and Morrissey were ready to move New Bedford’s solar initiative forward. The transformed sign company landed several plum jobs.

One of Beaumont’s breakthrough projects was a sao-kilowatt PV facility just across the street from New Bedford High School. Like the school itself, the solar array was built on a closed, capped landfill. It now supplies a quarter to a third of the high school’s electricity, but Phil says this may increase if the building’s roof passes muster as a secure spot for additional panels. We peer through a chain-link fence at several dozen orderly rows of panels before heading out to Sullivan’s Ledge, a former waste dump so polluted that it remains an actively treated, EPA-designated Superfund site.

Once a quarry, Sullivan’s Ledge was used by local industries through much of the twentieth century as a dumping ground for waste oil, PCB-laden electrical capacitors, other volatile chemicals, and demolition materials. It was fenced off in 1985, but it wasn’t fully capped for another fifteen years. Even today, an on-site treatment plant pumps and decontaminates groundwater while a network of vent stacks channels the release of landfill gases. When Phil and I arrive, a specially trained crew is ever-so-gingerly preparing the earthworks for a 2-megawatt PV array. We walk out onto a muddy stretch of land where two guys operating miniature excavators are carefully digging a trough for the electrical cabling. To protect the clay contaminant barrier that is buried just 36 inches underground, there are strict weight limits-s pounds per square inch-on all equipment allowed at the site. The excavator operators know that their small, smooth-edged shovels can dig no deeper than r8 inches as they work the soil.

The first few hundred ground mounts for solar panels are already in place along a stretch of Rat land abutting a cluster of self-storage sheds and a gas station. Hefty, above-ground concrete blocks hold tri­ angular steel braces in place-a safer mounting technique for panels than driving steel poles deep into the ground given the site’s pollution hazards. Ultimately this facility, with its eight thousand PV panels, will save New Bedford about $2 million in electricity costs over a twenty-year period.

In all, New Bedford’s solar initiative is expected to supply about 6o percent of the municipal government’s power needs, reducing its electric bills by about $I million annually. Better still, the city has incurred no capital costs because the solar installations are all owned and operated by a third party. Power purchase agreements with companies like SunEdison and Con Edison Solutions set fixed electric rates that are well below what the city has been paying for its power. And on top of those financial benefits are the local jobs at firms like Beaumont Solar. Fifty people are employed at Beaumont today, and quite a number of them have come straight out of the vocational education program at New Bedford High. Beaumont has paid for others to attend night school, to get trained as licensed electricians. Several have come from troubled homes. “It’s sort of a shot in the arm to get these kids feeling good about themselves;’ says Phil.

Order Harness the Sun: America’s Quest for a Solar-Powered Future from Amazon!



Earlier Today, Environment Massachusetts hosted an even at the New Bedford High School, highlighting the communities actions in general, and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and Beaumont Solar Co. CEO Phil Cavallo in particular. The following were Mr. Cavallo’s remarks at the event:


Sharon, thank you for that introduction and for all you do in your job to promote Environment Massachusetts.

Mayor Mitchell I am thrilled to be here today. I, on behalf of all of our employees at Beaumont Solar, thank you for your leadership in driving the City of New Bedford to be one of the leaders in the State and the country in renewable energy adoption. Simply put, without the participation of the City, State and our partnership, Beaumont Solar, would not exist.

My wife and I bought a 100 year old sign company in an inner city neighborhood of New Bedford, with the intent of leveraging its outstanding reputation and long customer base to diversify our offerings. We had company engineers and installers–whose skills of designing and installing “big” things and putting them into the ground and on rooftops–could be used to move us into renewable energy.

After briefly looking into land based wind, and with the advent of the Green Communities Act, we decided to launch into the solar arena. With a low interest loan and assistance from the New Bedford Economic Development Council, we haven’t looked back.

As of today, in just seven years, Beaumont Solar has grown 10-fold.
cavallo-newbedfordThe beauty of adopting renewable energy is that it creates a triple bottom line. Its undeniable that its great for the environment. Second, it great for municipalities, companies and residents, enabling them to capture substantial long term savings on the cost of the power they consume. And it creates real jobs, which are critical for our economy.

We believe in keeping things local at Beaumont. We source as much as possible from local suppliers. When people apply for a job, I tell candidates that New Bedford residents get a preference.

And I am deeply grateful that New Bedford has a leader in Mayor Jon Mitchell who likewise believes passionately in renewable energy’s triple bottom line promise. New Bedford has already deployed solar on school buildings and city owned land to the point that the city will save as much as $20M over the next 20 years by deploying solar.

This is all great news and progress, but it is about to come to an abrupt halt if the caps are not lifted on net metering. Today, we can build a solar farm on a remote piece of land and “net meter” the power to community members. We call this community solar, where you don’t have to install it on your rooftop to get the benefits. This program was created by the state DOER, and has far reaching benefits. We have one such project we are developing with IGS Energy in Bourne, MA on the cape. Anyone can get cheap, clean power from this solar farm and benefit from it. However, if the utilities have their way, they will lobby members of the state house to dismantle this capability. They will do this by claiming that solar is costing grandma higher utility bills to pay for it.

The fact is that grandma, can get cheap, clean solar power from our community solar farms. These farms are being built all over the commonwealth, where anyone can participate regardless of age, or financial stature.

So in summary, Beaumont Solar is living proof that green adoption in the city is living up to its promise. We urge you to speak with members of the house and senate next week and advocate lifting the net metering caps and keeping the DOER-SREC program in place. Don’t let the utilities win this battle.

Thank you.


Raising the caps will require help from MA State Senators and Representatives, please contact your legislators immediately.


Acushnet Self StorageAcushnet Self Storage will be opening its doors next month and the property’s owner Rick Miller is really maximizing his return on this newly constructed self-storage facility. Miller initially thought of constructing a traditional self-storage facility on the site, but then came up with the idea of putting solar panels on the self-storage buildings. By partnering with Beaumont Solar, he was able to build a 516kw solar system on top of the buildings. “This gives me two revenue streams instead of one,” Miller says. Owning another self-storage facility, and a manufacturing building where Beaumont Solar has already implemented a high-performing 287kW solar PV system (pictured below), it was a no brainier Miller says. “It’s like a Reese’e peanut butter cup—- the two are meant to be together.”

For Mr. Miller’s first system Beaumont Solar helped secure the 30% Treasury grant that was part of the solar incentives at the time. Beaumont has also safe harbored the grant for the storage facility’s 516kW system soon to come online. Although the grant is no longer a current incentive, the 30% ITC still remains.

“As with any industry, financial incentive packages shift, sometimes slowing an industry”, says Phil Cavallo, President & CEO of Beaumont Solar Co. “But with solar PV, we are seeing just the opposite. Electricity costs are a constant operating expense, businesses must have it. But they can make that cost vanish with a long-term asset that has a payback period that is, on average, as low as 20% of the life-time of the asset itself, turning roofs, parking lots and acerage into real, tangible, dependable money savers.”

Beaumont Solar has financial experts specialized in the solar PV industry who are constantly monitoring and anticipating changes in suppliers, incentives, financing and pricing. It is this detailed knowledge and full-service business model that allows us to utilizing best in class technology at the industry’s lowest price, to design, engineer and implement the most cost effective solar energy systems in operation with reliable, superior performance. Contact Us at 508-990-1757 for an evaluation of how much money solar energy can add to your bottom line.


Climate Change and Energy Policy

June 26, 2013

President Obama’s address on Climate Change was a watershed event. The Federal Government’s focus on cutting carbon pollution will only accelerate the growth 0f carbon-neutral sustainable energy resources like solar.

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Massachusetts DOER Intends to File Emergency Regulations for SRECII Program

June 24, 2013

Governor Patrick Announces 1.6GW Solar Goal by 2020 In some stunning moves by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), the state dovetailed behind the Patrick Administration’s announcement to increase the 250MW goal by 2017 here to 1.6GW by 2020. Massachusetts has become one of the hottest solar states in the whole country. […]

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Imtra Corporation’s New Solar System Provides Revenue for Direct Re-investment into R&D

February 21, 2013

Utilizing “green” energy to power their business is a natural fit for Imtra Corporation. Imtra is the leader in marine systems, with more than 50 year experience in the marine products industry. The company manufactures a series of energy-efficient LED lighting products and wind measurement and alarm systems used within the wind and alternative energy […]

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Largest Indoor Basketball Facility Now 100% Solar Powered – Gets requested incentives and avoids utility upgrades

January 30, 2013

1320 solar panels span the 73,000 sq ft roof of the Massachusetts Premier Courts indoor basketball facility in Foxboro, MA Aerial Photography by Auvergne Studios Beaumont Solar has completed one of the most significant solar projects in the region with the design, engineering and installation of a 389.40kW rooftop solar system at Mass Premier Courts in […]

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Massachusetts DPU-DG Working Group

December 5, 2012

Looking over some of the findings and recommendations from the group it comes at a time when 1GW of applications are submitted and 100MW are granted. Roughly speaking this is a 10% ratio. We need to look at providing a sunset on some of the  solar interconnection applications which are granted and in the queue. […]

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Today’s Consumers (and Legislators) Prefer Green Businesses

October 2, 2012

There are a wealth of reasons to take your company in a new, green direction. But the main ones most businesses consider are about increasing profits and attracting clients. From a business owner’s perspective, here are some points you may not have considered regarding the benefits solar has on a business: We’ve reached the point […]

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