EightTwenty is less than a year old, but the new solar energy company’s owners are ambitiously plotting to take on what they see as an untapped market. In just the past few weeks, the company led by the former president of Heartland Payment Systems has bidded to build a headquarters on Urban Renewal land east of Bricktown while partners in the company have proposed taking over construction of The Hill and turn the Deep Deuce development into a zero-energy neighborhood.
Tony Capucille, CEO, and Kent Cissell, president, founded EightTwenty last fall after leaving the fast-growing Heartland now located downtown. Capucille said the start-up was inspired by his own disappointment with area solar choices when he sought to add panels to his home.
“I got into a deep rabbit hole looking into it,” Capucille said. “We have the sixth most sunlight in the U.S. We have the 30th sunniest city.”
Oklahoma, built on a foundation of oil and gas, isn’t a newcomer to alternative energy, with the U.S. Department of Energy reporting wind power accounting for more than one-third of the state’s net electricity generation. In comparison, Capucille said, solar power only has about 1.2% market penetration.
“There are 2,500 (solar) homes in the whole state, very few commercial, and one field in Covington,” Capucille said. “When you look at the market, that’s a lot of opportunity.”
A renewed push for solar energy is already underway with the Department of Energy recently releasing a report suggesting solar power, with Congressional support for tax credits, could supply 40% of the nation’s electricity by 2035 — up from the current rate of 3%. That report concludes to propel solar power as a major source for electricity the industry will need to grow at up to four times its current rate. That would create up to 1.5 million jobs.