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SolarCity will expand its Petaluma operations

The growth of solar energy is paying dividends for Petaluma.

SolarCity, a San Mateo based solar-power company, is expanding its operations in Petaluma and will increase its local workforce by 40 percent come summer.

Spurred by an increasing demand for rooftop solar arrays, the company plans to open 10 new operations centers statewide by the end of the year, including the one in Petaluma. The company runs its Sonoma County operations out of a 6,000-square-foot warehouse on North McDowell Boulevard.

Brady Cox, a Cloverdale native, will be the regional manager at the Petaluma operations center.

“It's allowing us to bring solar to more people,” he said.

The expansion will increase the Petaluma operations staff from 28 now to almost 50 by mid-2014, Cox said.

The company, which was launched seven years ago, is headquartered in San Mateo and has 14 operations centers today, three in Northern California. It is in 14 states.

The California expansion, announced this week, will almost double the company's presence in the state.

Earlier this year, the company opened two of its largest operations centers, in Riverside and Stockton. In August, it inaugurated a San Fernando Valley regional operations center in Chatsworth.

With 24 locations, SolarCity will have a location within 30 miles of more than 90 percent of the state's population, said spokeswoman Molly Canales.

The expansion will add at least 260 new jobs to the approximately 2,100 it employs already in California. Nationally, the company employs about 4,000 workers.

Cox said the company tries to hire local talent and uses local trades workers when it needs assistance on a job, for roofing or tile help, for example.

“There's a ripple effect,” he said. “We often set up accounts with local mom-and-pop electrical suppliers. There's one across the street from where we are in Petaluma now.”

The local expansion will allow the company to better accommodate solar installations in Napa and Sonoma counties, which had been served by the Berkeley office, and to begin reaching farther north.

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