In a move that points toward the evolution of the distribution channel in the solar market, ITOCHU International Inc., the Japanese parent company that owns two of the largest solar distributors in the market, DC Power Systems, Rohnert Park, Calif., and Solar Depot, Petaluma, Calif., announced last month that it would integrate some of the back-office internal operations of these companies so they could focus more on marketing solar products in North America. The two distributors will operate as two companies within SolarNet Holdings, LLC, and will together serve more than 5,000 renewable energy dealers throughout the Americas, forming the largest distribution company in the industry.

Through the integration, DC Power and Solar Depot will share regional warehouses; open new warehouse locations; combine dealer training programs; pursue deeper relationships with leading solar manufacturing partners; and build on their technical and sales support.

DC Power Systems was founded in 1999, and according the press statement announcing the deal quickly became one of the nation's largest distributors of renewable energy products, with more than 5,000 dealers throughout North and South America and regional offices in eight U.S. states. For more than 30 years, Solar Depot has been designing and supplying solar energy systems for residential, commercial and industrial applications, making it one of the largest a solar distributors in the United States. In addition to its Petaluma headquarters, Solar Depot also operates two other full-service facilities in Sacramento and Corona, Calif., and has sales offices in Washington, D.C., Florida and Colorado.

ITOCHU Corp. is a subsidiary of ITOCHU International Inc., a large Japanese trading company that at the time of the acquisition had total revenues of $22 billion. According to ITOCHU's corporate website, it also now has approximately $2 billion in assets in the United States through its ownership of a diverse array of companies. These companies include distributors not only in the solar market but also in telecommunications, power, fruit and vegetables, chemical, security, fencing and medical markets.