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Published: Tuesday, 2/8/2011

Area solar firm looks to quadruple sales

BY SHEENA HARRISON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Solar panel test picture. Solar panel test picture.
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Nextronex Energy Systems LLC, a maker of inverter systems for utility-scale solar power installations, said the firm expects sales to more than quadruple this year as it picks up out-of-state clients.

Perrysburg-based Nextronex projects sales of $4 million in 2011, up from $850,000 in 2010, Chief Technology Officer Peter Gerhardinger said. The company's growth will come from the installation of solar arrays in Ohio and other solar industry-focused states, such as New Jersey, California, Arizona, and Florida. "Those are the ones that have the most activity, along with Ohio," said Mr. Gerhardinger, who estimated that about 75 percent of Nextronex's business comes from Ohio.

The company, which has 11 employees, plans to hire more as sales pick up, he said.

Nextronex produces inverters and other equipment that convert the direct-current electricity produced by solar arrays into alternating current used in homes and businesses. Local projects with Nextronex technology include a 250-kilowatt solar array at Pilkington North America Inc.'s research and development facility in Northwood and a solar array at the Ohio Air National Guard base in western Lucas County.

Mr. Gerhardinger said the company received about $1 million in funding last year, including $210,000 through the state's Energizing Careers grant program to train up to 35 new employees.

Rocket Ventures, the investment arm of the Toledo Regional Growth Partnership, has invested $675,000 in Nextronex since fall 2009, said Dan Slifko, the group's entrepreneur-in-residence and the outgoing chairman of Nextronex. He said Rocket Ventures and other investors have backed Nextronex because the company's inverter technology is advanced and fills a specific need for large solar installations.

"It's really a commodity," Mr. Slifko said.

Contact Sheena Harrison at: sharrison@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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