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SolarCity moving closer: will install solar panels in Pittsburgh area

You can’t hire SolarCity to put a solar energy system on your home’s roof in the Buffalo Niagara region, but the company is creeping closer.

SolarCity is pushing into the Pittsburgh market, with plans to open an operations center there that will employ more than 75 people once it’s fully staffed.

The company started taking orders from homeowners this week and expects to start doing installations this summer for consumers who currently buy their electricity from Duquesne Light, the local utility.

SolarCity’s push into Pittsburgh is the company’s first foray into western Pennsylvania. The company first started selling its rooftop solar systems to Pennsylvania residents last spring and it opened its first operations center in the state in Norristown, Pa., last September to serve the Philadelphia market. SolarCity uses the operations center as its local base to store the solar panels and other equipment that its installation crews use when they put a solar array on a customer’s roof.

SolarCity, which is planning to open North America’s biggest solar panel factory in South Buffalo next year, currently doesn’t sell its rooftop solar systems in the Buffalo Niagara region because CEO Lyndon Rive has said electricity prices in the region are too low.

Instead, the company, which operates in 19 states, has concentrated its East Coast activities along the Atlantic seaboard from Washington to New England. The company also has pushed up the Hudson River into the Albany market.