San Rafael headquarters, Santa Rosa satellite office; Schaeffer appointed CEOSAN RAFAEL -- Real Goods Solar is moving its headquarters back to San Rafael from Campbell and into an expanded space, according to CEO John Schaeffer.

"Marin County is central to the solar industry in California, and it's also central to our operations," he said.

Headquartered temporarily in San Rafael following its acquisition of Marin Solar in 2007, Real Goods Solar moved its center of corporate operations to Campbell after a merger with Campbell-based Regrid the next year.

Regrid co-founder Tom McCalmont then took the position of CEO, and Mr. Schaeffer the position of president.

But the fit wasn't right, according to Real Goods Solar employees.

SEC filings show that Mr. McCalmont resigned as CEO in November of this year and from the board this month. Mr. Schaeffer has returned to the position of CEO.

Real Goods Solar has operations in Hopland, San Rafael, Campbell, Santa Cruz, Fresno, Murietta, Richmond and Boulder, Colo., where its parent company Gaiam Inc. is located.

The fast-growing, 175-employee spin-off is also establishing a base in Santa Rosa to serve Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties.

"The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program is so strong it makes sense to open a satellite operation there," said Mr. Schaeffer. Real Goods Solar has leased a 1,475-square-foot location on Empire Industrial and will install a staff of seven or eight, he said.

In San Rafael, the company is negotiating a lease on a 3,207-square-foot office space and 6,240 square feet of warehouse space on Anderson Lane, said operations manager Dan Williams.

"The new headquarters will be about 25 percent larger than the former Marin Solar space where we are now," he said.

Real Goods Solar, which is traded on Nasdaq under RSOL, reported net revenue of $39.2 million for 2008, up from $18.9 million in 2007.

According to Mr. Schaeffer, the economy has temporarily stalled the company's aggressive acquisition strategy, although, "We're always looking around," he said.

After the acquisition of Marin Solar and certain assets of Hemet-based Carlson Solar, it picked up Independent Energy Systems of Santa Cruz and then Regrid Power, all within a year.

"Right now we're concentrating on integration of our portfolio, and we're very close to completion. We have cash in the bank, we've just completed a strong rebranding campaign, and we've created a very innovative zero-down financing model that promises to be very popular among our customers," said Mr. Schaeffer.

Real Goods Solar has installed more than 5,000 systems, mostly in California. Although its original focus was on residential, it is increasing the number of commercial installations.

According to vice president of sales Kent Haliburton, 30 percent of its customers are commercial, "and we're in the process of being more engaged in that sector," he said.

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