Dogwood Solar has been providing renewable solar energy to the Columbia community and beyond for 11 years.
Dan Shifley has always had a passion for solar energy, and 11 years ago, he took that passion and turned it into a business — Dogwood Solar. For the past 11 years, Dogwood Solar has been connecting people with solar energy both right here in our community and beyond.
“I really like the self-reliance factor of [solar energy], and I love the fact that we can produce our own energy if we just put some equipment on the roof. It’s a free resource, and we just have to pay a little bit to capture it,” Dan explains.
From 2008 to 2009, Dan began his training in solar energy, and on January 1, 2010, Dogwood Solar opened its doors, offering solar design, installation, and service for residential, commercial, and nonprofit projects.
A Humble Beginning
The first year that Dogwood Solar was open, Dan says that the company didn’t see much business. In fact, the first year only saw four or five customers. Now, after 11 years, the business has gained momentum. “We see a lot more customers and clients than that now,” Dan says with a laugh. “And it’s growing every year.”
In the beginning of Dogwood, solar energy wasn’t yet a common topic of public thought. But now, Dan explains, many clients that come in have been thinking about solar and have been familiar with the notion for a while. And if a client comes in that isn’t quite as familiar with solar energy, Dan is always excited to share his wealth of knowledge about the many ways solar power can benefit each person and the environment.
As the business has grown, so has Dan’s family. “When I started [Dogwood Solar], we had two daughters who were really young. Now we have three daughters, and I see this as a way to inspire them in their lives to make a change and do something they’re passionate about,” Dan explains.
Not only does Dan see the support from his family, but he also sees it from the community. People are eager to learn more about solar energy and participate in Earth Day activities. “It’s a town where this type of business does really well, and I feel that strong community support,” he explains. Before COVID-19 came, the business would host a booth at the Earth Day Festival hosted by Columbia Earth Day Coalition, where they educate past, present, and future clients about solar energy and give away prizes. In a post-COVID world, Dan looks forward to those events again so he can connect with more members of the community and share his love for solar energy.
Solar Energy 101
“First and foremost, by switching to solar, you’re going to be doing something for the environment,” Dan says. Most of Dogwood Solar’s clients are environmentally motivated to do something that will benefit their children, grandchildren, and the world as a whole in the future. But the benefits of solar energy go beyond creating a better environment for your kids to grow up in.
“The neat thing about solar energy is that, while it satisfies [contributing to a better environment] and then some, it also has a great return on investment,” Dan says. “Particularly here in central Missouri, we’re seeing people that make this investment because they’re going to pay less for electricity and for the life of the system than they would otherwise.” The biggest challenge, however, is making the choice of whether or not solar energy is right for you.
Giving Back to Communities
Since its inception in 2010, Dogwood Solar has helped hundreds of people in the community fulfill their solar wants and needs, regardless of the project. The business has installed solar panels on homes, businesses, and other structures. In its 11 years, Dogwood Solar has done a little bit of everything. “We’ve done off-grid, we’ve done on-grid, and we’ve even helped Habitat for Humanity with a couple of projects,” Dan says, adding that they accomplished the Habitat for Humanity projects below cost estimates.
The business also works on several projects with Global First Responder, a nonprofit international medical relief organization that offers support in places that need the most help. “We’re most proud of the work we’ve done with GFR,” Dan says.
Through the projects with GFR, the business has brought solar energy to communities around the world, including some in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. “As soon as COVID gets out of the way, we’ll start traveling again to do more,” he explains. “We provided solar generators in the Bahamas and installed solar systems with battery back-up in Puerto Rico, and we also helped with clean-up and other construction needs.”
“To be completely honest, I love every project we do,” Dan says. “There’s a unique challenge to solve in all of them, and at the end of the day, it ends up looking great and performing great. It’s a lot of fun to do what I do.”
1501 Creekwood Pkwy, Ste. 110