Clean Energy at Los Osos Shopping Center

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

April 22, 2022

Solar panels installed at the Los Osos Shopping Center by King Energy. The company turns rooftops at shopping centers, office buildings and industrial parks into solar energy producers. Photo submitted

King Energy is the newest tenant in the largest shopping plaza is Los Osos, but they might be a little difficult to find because they are on the roof. The company rents rooftops to build solar installations and pays owners a monthly fee based on the market value. 

“We pay the property owner to use the roof space for the program,” said Brian Clausen, King Energy chief revenue officer. “We then pay all of the costs of the solar program and manage the program over its lifetime. We have a software application that manages the distribution of energy from the program across the participating businesses in the shopping center. Our software provides a simple, monthly bill for each business that shows them how much energy they use from the solar program and how much they use from the power grid.”

Construction of the project at the Los Osos Shopping Center on Los Osos Valley Road began in late August and went live in late March. The 582 solar panels, approximately 40,000 square feet of roof space, are not visible from the street. The center is home to Grocery Outlet, Rite Aide, Miner’s Hardware, Dollar Tree, Volumes of Pleasure Bookeshoppe and Carlock’s Bakery among others. 

“The energy from the program is available to all businesses in the shopping center, whether they are located in the main building or the satellite buildings,” Clausen said. “All buildings benefit from the program, but the panels are physically located on the roof of the main building. Because the program just launched, not all businesses in the center have enrolled yet, however, it is available to all of them. In all cases, the energy cost to the participating business is lower than the cost of energy from the power grid.”

Businesses are not required to sign long-term agreements to use the solar energy. They can exit the program if they want to opt-out or if they move out of the center. 


A view of the 582 solar panels installed at the Los Osos 
Shopping Center. Photo submitted

Clausen said the typical savings for local businesses is 10%. The program generates 400,000 kWh of clean energy a year. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, that is equivalent to about CO2 emissions from 313 pounds of coal burned or the carbon kept from entering Earth’s atmosphere from more than 4,600 seedling trees grown over the span of 10 years. 

How it Works 

• Property owners benefit because King Energy pays rent to use open roof space.

• Local businesses benefit by paying less for energy.

• King Energy benefits by being paid for the energy generated by the solar program.

“Over time,” Clausen said, “the proceeds we bring in for the energy that is generated is used to pay rent, to maintain the program, to pay for program financing and (over the long run) to create positive cash flows for us. Although the businesses are paying us less than they would pay the utility, it is enough for us to pay rent, pay for program maintenance and insurance and pay our financing partners.”

Locally, King Energy has also completed projects in Arroyo Grande at the Oak Park Plaza and will launch a fourth one later this month in Pismo Beach at the Pismo Coast Plaza. In the coming months, they are slated to complete similar solar installations in Sacramento, Stockton, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, San Francisco and Marin. 

Currently the company doesn’t work in the residential arena, but plans to serve multi-tenant residential properties such as apartment buildings in the future.

King Energy is a national company founded in 2020. They currently have 35 employees, several who live in Los Osos, and have offices in and San Luis Obispo and Durango, CO.

For more information, go to kingenergy.com. 

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