Ed Steins asked for a show of hands.
"How many of you have just started working for SolarCity within the last six months?", the company's Northeast Vice-President wondered.
Nearly every hand was raised among a throng of employees wearing environmental-green, company-logo sweatshirts in a converted reception area in the firm's new Brook St. center. Steins beamed as he gazed upon the affirmation from the audience.
"We pride ourselves on being a local company," he declared of the San Mateo, CA-based solar energy provider. "We hire Connecticut workers to do our work in Connecticut."
The new positions created by SolarCity's expansion into the mid-state region align with Governor Malloy's green jobs push. The new location is responsible for the creation of 44 new jobs this year—“forty-four
good jobs,” according to Malloy.
Malloy visited the site to cut the ceremonial ribbon signifying its official opening, although the facility has been in use since November, and the local operation was being run out of an office in Wethersfield during the first part of the year.
Malloy emphasized his administration's "enduring commitment to clean energy jobs." He added that "our overall goal should be to make Connecticut and all of North America energy-independent as soon as possible."
DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty fleshed-out Malloy's rationale. "Energy independence will allow us to be competitive in industries we wouldn't be otherwise," he explained.
Esty praised Malloy for his commitment to renewable energy.
"While Washington is in breakdown, and other states are stepping back, this state and this governor are stepping forward," on their dedication to green power, the commissioner lauded.
But, what inspires Esty most are companies like SolarCity who represent the vanguard of the clean energy business. "The greatest sight is the sea of green shirts out here," he said.
Steins expanded upon the benefits of companies like SolarCity that extend beyond their eco-friendy approach. "Residents and businesses can quickly go solar for less money and no money down," he argued, asserting the advantages over fossil fuel providers.
According to Steins, in the first year of its Connecticut operation, SolarCity has performed "over 200 residential and commercial" installations, including major "municipal projects."
Solar advocate Hannah Masterjohn of the non-profit group Vote Solar explained why companies like SolarCity aren't more prevalent.
"The biggest problem is that most people don't think it works. But, 120,000 people are employed in the solar industry. It does work."
"Solar is not a hippie thing," she continued, defending the practicality of the business.
Masterjohn, who works in her organization's New York office, lavished compliments upon her neighboring state. "Connecticut really is a leader," in the solar energy movement, she affirmed. "You guys are at the forefront."
SolarCity's Regional Operations Manager Cory Rogers, meanwhile, explained why Rocky Hill specifically presents an attractive location for the local headquarters.
"It's pretty centralized, close to I-91, Route 15, Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury. It's a good spot."
Rogers also pointed out the fact that the plant is "still hiring, particularly electricians and carpenters."
And he emphasized the firm's commitment to equal opportunity.
"We're seeking female electricians and carpenters, especially. I'm a firm believer that employing all sorts of people makes for a healthier company."