Building Energy Resiliency for the Military with Microgrids

Building Energy Resiliency for the Military with Microgrids

Building Resiliency for the Military with Microgrids

Energy security is a critical concern to United States military operations, both nationally and abroad.

Microgrids provide the ultimate emergency backup power source and can function independently from the grid, enhancing the physical security and cybersecurity our nation’s military bases.

By: Troy Van Beek, Former US Navy SEAL & Co-Founder, Ideal Energy

Electric grids are among the largest and most complex infrastructure projects in the history of mankind – and the most vulnerable. Severe weather, natural disasters, and deliberate attacks can cause extraordinarily expensive damage to the grid and the wider economy. Ever-increasing worldwide demand for electricity and booming electric vehicle sales mean grid infrastructure will continue to be stressed. The traditional electric grid may not be able to sustain this increased demand.

Clean energy microgrids can provide the solution.

Microgrids are the ultimate emergency backup power source. They provide reliable power that can guarantee uptime for critical business, government, or healthcare operations.

Because they can operate independently from the grid, they also enhance physical security and cybersecurity – which are significant concerns to the military.

Microgrids can reduce the cost of energy. Microgrids can be configured to optimize for energy price, switching from grid power to microgrid sources when energy costs are high. Solar microgrids are much cheaper to run than diesel generators, making them an excellent option for remote locations.

Although microgrids can use fossil fuel energy sources, they excel when designed around renewable energy sources and battery energy storage. Battery energy storage makes intermittent renewables like solar fully dispatchable, allowing stored solar energy to be used whenever it’s needed, regardless of sunshine.

Microgrid technology also makes the traditional grid more resilient and efficient by improving power quality and reducing transmission and distribution losses.

 

How Microgrids Work

A microgrid is a localized group of electricity generators and electricity users that can operate independently of the traditional grid when needed.

The Microgrid Exchange Group defines microgrids as “a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid. A microgrid can connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to operate in both grid-connected or island-mode.”

According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the key characteristics differentiating microgrids from the traditional grid are that microgrids are locally controlled and that they can operate either connected to the traditional or disconnected from it as an electrical island.

The microgrid concept comes from a 2004 research paper by Robert Lasseter and Paolo Piagi. They proposed that ever-increasing levels of distributed generation could cause problems with the traditional electric grid and that a solution lay in a new approach that views localized generation and associated loads as a subsystem or “microgrid.”i

Because they are downstream of a single point of common coupling (PCC) and because customers typically have a great degree of control over everything on their side of the meter, these microgrids are self-governed. Their more numerous, smaller generation sources provide higher local reliability than the traditional grid’s large, centralized power plants. With generation sources close by, they could also provide higher efficiency with less transmission loss. (The fuel-to-electricity efficiency of existing power plants, including transmission, is only around 28-32%.)

Lasseter and Piagi envisioned that with a plug-and-play architecture provided by inverters, these systems could be installed with little site-specific engineering required. Modern battery energy storage systems like Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack provide both the control to be plug-and-play and the required voltage regulation to integrate multiple generation sources into a microgrid.

Solar + Storage in Microgrids

Above: Ideal energy installed a Tesla Powerpack system which works in tandem with solar at Agri-Industrial Plastics Company (AIP) of Fairfield, IA.

Solar power and battery energy storage are a perfect fit for clean energy microgrids. Solar power is clean, renewable, and scales up and down very well. Unlike backup generators powered by diesel fuel, solar panels require almost no maintenance and are free to operate. Solar panels are immune to supply chain disruption.

Battery energy storage systems make intermittent renewable sources fully dispatchable, meaning stored solar energy can be used anytime, even when insolation is low. Modern battery energy storage systems use predictive algorithms to handle all control operations. These artificial intelligence systems can be configured to optimize for price, automatically switching to the grid when energy is cheapest and using stored solar energy when grid power is more expensive.

Military Microgrids

A sobering 2017 research paper shows that the U.S. electric grid is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, physical attacks, and cyberattacks.ii

GRID VULNERABILITIES
Weather-related power outages cost the United States $18 billion to $33 billion every year in spoiled inventory, delayed production, and damage to grid infrastructure. An average of 700,000 consumers are impacted during each weather-induced power outage annually.

The researchers found that the “traditional power grid infrastructure is incapable of withstanding intentional physical attacks.” Damage caused by sabotage, bombing, or terrorism can be long-lasting and expensive because grid infrastructure components such as large transformers are often custom-built and are difficult to source and move.

A 2013 sniper attack on a PG&E substation near Silicon Valley disabled 17 transformers and cost PG&E approximately $100 million. Repairs took 27 days.

The Pentagon spent around $100 million in 2009 to repair cyber-related damage to the electric grid. In 2012 the Department of Homeland Security responded to approximately 200 cyber incidents in critical infrastructure sectors, 41% of which involved the electric grid.

According to senior intelligence officials, adversarial nation states have already made attempts to map critical infrastructure for “navigation and control” of the U.S. electric grid. The estimated economic impact of a successful grid cyberattack is $243 billion to $1 trillion in an extreme case.

SECURING ENERGY MICROGRIDS
The researchers reported that the technical community and energy industry recommend that the military harden itself from these threats with distributed solar + battery energy storage microgrids. This is a belief we at Ideal Energy share.

Solar energy is free to operate, requires almost no maintenance, and is not vulnerable to supply chain disruption. Solar energy savings yield impressive returns on investment over time.

Battery energy storage systems make solar energy fully dispatchable. Stored solar energy can be used at night or other times of low insolation, during grid disturbances, or during times of peak demand or high energy cost. Battery energy storage systems can be configured in a number of ways: to provide peak shaving, to act as an emergency backup system, and to offer microgrid capability.

Remote sites and communities have cut costs and increased energy security with solar microgrids. The military can do the same with overseas bases and forward operating bases. Diesel can cost upwards of $400 per gallon by the time it reaches vehicles and aircraft at forward operating bases in Afghanistan or Iraq.”

From left to right: Forward Operating Base, Logar, Afghanistan, Photo Credit: US ARMY, Former US Navy SEAL and Ideal Energy Founder, Troy Van Beek in active duty.

FORWARD OPERATING BASES
Remote sites and communities have cut costs and increased energy security with solar microgrids. The military can do the same with overseas bases and forward operating bases. Diesel can cost upwards of $400 per gallon by the time it reaches vehicles and aircraft at forward operating bases in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The National Park Service installed a 305 kilowatt (kW) solar array with a 1.92 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery energy storage on Alcatraz Island in 2012. The Alcatraz microgrid has reduced the island’s fuel consumption by 45% annually – or 25,000 gallons of diesel.

The island of Ta’u in American Samoa switched from expensive diesel generators to a solar + storage microgrid. The project features a 1.4 megawatt (MW) solar array and a 6 MWh Tesla Powerpack battery energy storage system. The system reduced the island’s energy costs and provides reliable power to the island’s nearly 600 residents. The Ta’u microgrid helped bring American Samoa’s overall renewable energy share to 48%.

COSTS
Meeting military microgrid needs is a large task. Around 80% of all energy consumed by the Federal government goes to Department of Defense operations. The Department of Defense operates over 400 military installation in the continental U.S. Approximately 17 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaics will be needed to power all domestic military sites.

The researchers estimated the cost to outfit all domestic military installations with solar arrays would be approximately $42 billion at a price of $2.50 per installed watt. However, that investment will pay back in several years due to avoided energy expenditures and will provide cheap insurance against extremely expensive vulnerabilities.

A SECURE, SUSTAINABLE MILITARY
The military is already moving in the direction of clean energy microgrids. The military plans to obtain 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Twenty-seven bases have installed or plan to install solar arrays. Several microgrids involving renewable energy have already been installed.

In 2017 Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island updated its electrical system with a new microgrid. The 10 MW microgrid, which incorporates a 6.7 MW solar array, an 8 MWh battery energy storage system, and a 3.5 MW natural gas combined heat and power (CHP) plant, allows the base to fully disconnect from the grid and operate in island mode during grid disturbances. The project cut the base’s utility demand by 79%, reduced water use by 27%, and eliminated 37,165 metric tons of CO2 production.

A similar project at the Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts went online in 2018. That project incorporates a 1.5 MW wind turbine, a 1.6 MW diesel backup generator, and a 1.2 MWh battery energy storage system. The Otis microgrid was the first military microgrid to use a battery energy storage system to form a completely islandable base-wide microgrid that can operate independent from the utility grid. The microgrid will provide all of the base’s power, save $500,000 to $1 million per year, and protect the base from cyber-vulnerabilities.

Microgrid Growth

The growth of microgrids is substantial. According to the Department of Energy, there were around 140 microgrid projects totaling 1.1 GW of capacity worldwide as of 2011. By 2017 there were 216 microgrids in the United States alone with 1.948 GW of renewable energy capacity. The microgrid market is expected to grow to 7.6 GW by 2024, according to Ameresco – a five-fold increase since 2015. Microgrids are ready for primetime.

iLasseter, Robert H., and Paolo Piagi. “Microgrid: A conceptual solution.” In IEEE Power Electronics Specialists Conference, vol. 6, pp. 4285-4291. 2004.
iiPrehoda, Emily W., Chelsea Schelly, and Joshua M. Pearce. “US strategic solar photovoltaic-powered microgrid deployment for enhanced national security.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 78 (2017): 167-175.

About Ideal Energy

Ideal Energy’s solar + storage expertise makes us the perfect partner for a clean energy microgrid project. Ideal Energy installed the first commercial solar + storage project in Iowa at Stuff Etc’s Coralville location. We also installed the largest solar and storage project in the state at the MUM Solar Power Plant, which is the first project in the Midwest to combine active tracking with battery energy storage. We are currently installing the first Tesla Powerpack deployed in Iowa at Agri-Industrial Plastics Company.

“When I started Ideal Energy, I knew solar power could provide a solution to global energy security,” said Troy Van Beek, former Navy SEAL and founder and CEO of Ideal Energy. “The solar + storage technology we’re working with now takes that concept even further with secure and reliable power, emergency backup capability, and even complete grid independence.”

Get in touch. Solving energy challenges with innovative solutions is what we do.

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Solar as a Strategy

Solar as a Strategy

Solar as a Strategy

How Solar Energy Helps Companies Hire & Retain Top Talent, Reduce Operating Costs, and Stay Ahead of the Competition

In his book On Competition, Michael Porter wrote that, “Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.”

If your company has a strategy, as opposed to what Porter called operational effectiveness, you can build higher barriers to competition by creating a unique position for yourself. This can yield higher profits than operational effectiveness-based approaches.

Solar or solar plus battery energy storage can be a strategic differentiator – and not only because of the energy cost savings. In addition to capitalizing on the hidden opportunity in your operating costs, solar energy can help you stake out a strategic position to attract top employees and win competitive bids.

Attracting Top Talent & Millennial Workers

A 2013 Bain & Company survey discussed in the Harvard Business Review found that two-thirds of workers reported increasing interest in their employers’ commitment to sustainability compared to just a few years before. A majority of respondents said sustainable business was extremely important to them. In fact, employees cared more about the sustainability of actual businesses operations than about a company’s philanthropic activity. Perhaps most importantly, more respondents believed employers should take the lead on sustainability than they did consumers, employees, or even governments.

Sustainability is especially important among Millennial employees, who became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force in 2016. According to Forbes, green technology is among the top four things Millennials seek out from potential employers. Around 90% of Millennials, 84% of Gen Xers, and 77% of Baby Boomers say sustainability is a core value they consider when choosing a job.

We’re really focused on being the employer of choice in the region. This solar array is like a giant billboard that says, ‘Guess what? This is not your old-school manufacturing building.’ It’s not dark, it’s not dingy, it’s not unsafe. It’s technical, it’s looking forward.”

–Lori Schaefer-Weaton, President, Agri-Industrial Plastics Company

This cannot be faked. Employer actions must match the perception of sustainability. Brand credibility on social and environmental initiatives stands at only 19% according to a research study by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research. This likely contributes to the 31% of employees who quit new jobs within the first six months. Employers must walk the talk to not only attract but also retain top talent, especially among younger workers.

Our customer Agri-Industrial Plastics Company (AIP) is using its solar energy and Tesla battery system to attract top hires by staking out a cutting-edge, sustainability-focused position. This is the first solar project in the Midwest to incorporate Tesla Powerpack and the first solar plus battery energy storage system implemented by a large manufacturer in Iowa.

“We’re really focused on being the employer of choice in the region,” said Lori Schaefer-Weaton, president of AIP. “This solar array is like a giant billboard that says, ‘Guess what? This is not your old-school manufacturing building.’ It’s not dark, it’s not dingy, it’s not unsafe. It’s technical, it’s looking forward.”

The solar + storage installation will form the foundation of a comprehensive sustainability policy currently under development at AIP. “I would consider it a strategic investment for our future,” said Schaefer-Weaton.

Above: Agri-Industrial Plastics is using solar as a strategy to attract hires such as Jeff Guttry, Engineering Coordinator.

From Left to Right: Robotics at work on AIP’s manufacturing floor, a student intern gets hands-on experience in the repairshop.

Sustainability Scorecards

Many manufacturers and other suppliers are subject to sustainability evaluations by their customers. Large companies like retailers, tech companies, and OEMs spearheaded these efforts along with environmental NGOs. For example, in 2009 Walmart created a 15 question Sustainability Index and asked nearly 100,000 suppliers to respond. Walmart uses the Sustainability Index to reward high-scoring suppliers.

These sustainability scorecards are spreading throughout industry, including to smaller firms, aided by a growing suite of independent NGO evaluation and certification programs that take the heavy lifting off the buyer. If these evaluations are not yet widespread in your industry, they likely will be soon.

A number of our manufacturing customers are evaluated for their sustainability efforts. Earning top marks on these scorecards is one of the motives behind our customers’ decisions to move forward with renewable energy programs. Sustainability scores usually include some form of carbon reduction or renewable energy component, so solar energy is among the best sustainability interventions a company can make to earn a higher score.

These scorecards can be vitally important in a competitive bidding process or during annual evaluations. Solar energy and other sustainability efforts add points to a supplier’s score, which increases the likelihood of winning – and keeping – valuable contracts. Sustainability scores can be a large component of overall evaluations, along with traditional key performance indicators like price, performance, and quality. In Dell’s supplier evaluation, for example, sustainability performance is weighted at 10 to 15% of the overall score.

Above: Agri-Industrial Plastics Company (AIP) is using solar as part of their sustainability growth strategy to attract hires and clients.

From Left to Right: AIP’s manufacturing process integrates advanced engineering, robotics and skilled labor to create custom blow-mold products.

Operating Cost Opportunities

You want to reduce operating expenses. Every business does. Although this may seem less like a clever strategy than simply good business sense, solar energy can allow you to capitalize on the hidden opportunities in your budget that your competitors may not even be aware. For manufacturers and other large electric users, in particular, demand charges can be a major line item that is difficult to control. Solar installations and solar plus battery energy storage systems can slash demand charges and dramatically reduce utility expenses.

Our customer Steffensmeier Welding & Manufacturing (SWM) knocked over $90,000 per year off of its expense sheet. The 430 kW solar array we built for the company will pay for itself in 4-6 years.

Those savings have allowed Jenny Steffensmeier, president and owner, to invest in her employees, hire new workers, expand production, and give back to the community. The company added coverage for dental, vision, and disability to its benefits package. Several employees are receiving AutoCAD training. SWM added a second shift with new hires. The company plans to purchase additional equipment in the future. Increased community involvement and charitable giving round out the uses for those solar savings. “All of these things potentially could not have happened because the cash flow was not there before,” Steffensmeier said.

Investments in solar energy yield dividends for businesses, communities, and employees that compound year over year. How is your competition answering that?

Above: Steffensmeier Welding & Manufacturing produces 100% of it’s energy needs with solar on a net annual basis, and saves about $92,000 per year in operating costs.

Does your business showcase leadership, analytical aptitude, and engaging company culture?

Get a FREE energy strategy session to find out how solar can take your business to the next level.

Sustainability as a Strategy

In their Harvard Business Review essay, Yes, Sustainability Can Be a Strategy, Ioannis Ioannou and George Serafeim reported on their findings from environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings of over 3,000 companies. They found that some sustainability measures are becoming best practices that are more of a necessity than a unique position. They also found that more strategic approaches to sustainability – those that went beyond common sustainability practices and differentiated businesses from their competition – were associated with increased market valuation and higher return on capital.

Ioannou and Serafeim concluded that “some companies are creating real strategic advantage by adopting sustainability measures their competitors can’t easily match.”

If you invest in solar energy before your competition does, you’ll have the upper hand. You can take advantage of higher tax credits (which start stepping down after this year), the recruiting and marketing punch that comes with being an early adopter, and extra months or years of compounding savings that can be reinvested in growth. Every day you have these advantages and your competitor does not, you put more distance between your company and your competition.

Get in touch. Solving business problems with solar solutions is what we do.

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Energizing Maharishi University of Management

Energizing Maharishi University of Management

Energizing Iowa's largest solar & storage power plant

The Ideal Newsroom | 10.25.2018

Maharishi University of Management to inaugurate 1.1 megawatt solar power plant on Friday

FAIRFIELD, Iowa, December 7th, 2018 – Maharishi University of Management will inaugurate the new MUM Solar Power Plant on Friday, December 14th from 2:45 to 4:00pm. The inauguration will begin in Dalby Hall at the Argiro Student Center, 1000 North 4th Street, before moving to the site of the power plant just north of campus.

The event will feature a tour of the power plant as well as presentations by MUM President Dr. John Hagelin, Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, Troy and Amy Van Beek of Ideal Energy, and Tom Factor. Congressman Dave Loebsack will make a special guest appearance.

The cutting edge design incorporates both active tracking and battery energy storage. This is the first system of its kind in the Midwest and among the most technologically advanced solar installations in the United States.

The solar array is rated at 1.1 megawatts – over 200 times the size of a typical residential array. The active tracking system uses motors and a predictive algorithm to move the solar panels during the day, following the sun’s path. This system generates around 15% more energy every year than a fixed tilt array of the same size.

The power plant also includes a 1.05 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system. This system will allow MUM to peak shave, which cuts expensive demand charges by reducing electricity consumption during peak usage times like summer afternoons.

The MUM Solar Power Plant will bring the University’s renewable energy share to around 43%. By combining active tracking technology with battery energy storage MUM will cut its utility costs by a projected 30%.
MUM invites everyone in the community to attend the inauguration. Transportation will be provided from campus to the power plant and back. Cookies and hot drinks will be served at the power plant site.

For more information about the power plant, visit:
idealenergysolar.com/mum

Contact:
Amy Van Beek
Ideal Energy, Inc.
(641) 209-3288

–END–

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Apprenticeships: Creating Clean Jobs for the American Workforce

Apprenticeships: Creating Clean Jobs for the American Workforce

During national Apprenticeship Week, we’re taking a look inside Ideal Energy’s electrical apprenticeship program and the careers that are reshaping our energy future

Apprenticeships: Creating Clean Jobs for the American Workforce

Apprenticeship is on the rise, and for good reason.

Trade fields are booming. Experienced and skilled tradesman are in short supply, especially in the solar industry.

Growth in new installations and maintenance of existing installations is skyrocketing. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), forecasts call for “an acceleration of solar deployment in the second half of 2018 driven by utility-scale projects. According to the report, 8.5 gigawatts of utility PV projects were procured in the first six months of the year, the most ever procured in that timeframe. This includes 26 projects exceeding 100 megawatts.”

The SEIA predicts that this growth is just the beginning, so skilled electricians will be in even higher demand.

Source: Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables

Apprenticeship is a hands-on and supported way of breaking into a field.

Many career paths can be intimidating and difficult to navigate. Apprenticeships are a structured and generally easy-to-follow path toward fulfilling careers and opportunities.

Many apprentices get paid to work during their learning periods.

As is the case in the Ideal Energy apprenticeship program, apprentices are paid while completing their training, have options for full financial assistance in paying for school, and are able to work toward their licensing or certifications while making a living.

Formal degrees are not right for everyone – and that’s okay.

Many people have grown up thinking that a traditional degree is the only ticket to a fulfilling career, but many individuals actually benefit much more from the hands-on, detailed, and structured nature of trade field training and licensing programs. Having guides and partners in learning is what apprenticeships are all about.

Electricians are in high demand, and the electrical field is one that has an extremely bright outlook. Technological advancements, developments in renewable energy, and research into sustainability all go hand in hand with what we do – we need future-minded individuals to take on the challenges of creating a better and more sustainable future.

Interested in an electrifying career?

Check out our job openings.

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Apprentice Spotlight: Dan Meyers

Apprentice Spotlight: Dan Meyers

During national Apprenticeship Week, we’re taking a look inside Ideal Energy’s electrical apprenticeship program and the careers that are reshaping our energy future

Apprentice Spotlight: Dan Meyers

Dan Myers is nearly two-thirds of the way through his apprenticeship and he’s excited for the next step. He says that his favorite part of being an electrical apprentice is that there are unlimited growth opportunities, and he feels challenged to evolve with technology and develop new skills as he works.

Dan’s Journeyman test is right around the corner, and he is looking forward to using his licensing to help develop the field of renewable energy.

Q: What would you say you’ve found most surprising or interesting about your work with Ideal Energy Solar?

Well the solar field, even though it’s established, is still in its infancy. It’s always growing and changing, and that’s what’s most interesting about it. From year to year, you’re challenged to evolve with the field, and you’re always entertained by the new developments in technology and sustainability.

Q: How is your work as an apprentice coming along?

Well I’m a year and a half into the program and about 2/3 of the way through the hours I need. I’m doing the schooling at the same time while I’m working, too.

I actually had previous electronic engineering schooling before working here, and that did help a little with background knowledge. It’s not necessary, but it helped me. And since our inverters have some small circuitry it’s fun to be able to help in that area as part of the team.

Q: Do you feel that your licensing will set you up for the kind of growth you want to see in your life?

Well renewables are the future. I like them a lot – I like the independence and the freedom they bring. We can’t keep burning fossil fuels, so the move to cleaner and more efficient energy sources is inevitable. So I’ll be sticking with it.

Q: Do you see yourself staying in renewables long term? Has this field left a positive mark on you that makes you want to stay with solar or something similar?

I certainly could with what I’ve learned here, and I know it’s a goal some people have, but I think that level of work isn’t for me. I like the kind of work I’m doing – hands-on, putting the pieces together, knowing the code, applying it to what I’m doing. It’s very satisfying.

Q: What advice can you give to those considering entering this field?

It may seem intimidating, but if you set your mind to it you’ll get it, and you’ll probably really like it. It’s worth it 100%.

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Apprentice Spotlight: Mattie Kennedy

Apprentice Spotlight: Mattie Kennedy

During national Apprenticeship Week, we’re taking a look inside Ideal Energy’s electrical apprenticeship program and the careers that are reshaping our energy future

Apprentice Spotlight: Mattie Kennedy

Mattie Kennedy is working hard to complete his apprenticeship, and says he enjoys the path he’s taking toward his goals in the electrical and renewable energy fields.

Mattie is looking forward to passing the Journeyman test, as it’ll give him the freedom to work without direct supervision and to help other apprentices learn on the job. He’s excited to see what this forward-thinking field will come up with in the years to come.

Q: So you’re a Wisconsin native – what makes Fairfield your home?

I’m very interested in sustainability and the movements that are developing those technologies, and Fairfield is known for that. I also love the art and culture scene. It can be hard to find such a welcoming community that has the things I’m looking for, but that’s why I like Fairfield.

Q: Was becoming an electrician something that you always wanted to be?

Well, as an adult I actually started out in graphic arts but quickly found out that sitting in front of a computer all day just wasn’t something I could be happy doing. So since construction was my other long-time interest I decided to explore that. I wanted something structured – a structured direction within construction that was realistic and had growth.

Renewable energy is very marketable, there’s policy for it, it’s an industry that’s already established enough to be solid but it’s still evolving. I also very quickly learned while in school that I do not enjoy the policy side – I much prefer the hands-on side. There are so many places to go in this field, and I love that.

Q: Do you have any guidance that you can give to other potential or aspiring electricians out there?

Well, for me you really have to have fun with it. You have to have fun at work.

I like that this is a puzzle to solve – it’s always a puzzle. A puzzle that can be dangerous, honestly, which makes it logical that you have to meet so many qualifications to practice as an electrician.

I’ve found that if you enjoy the people you work with and for, and if you enjoy what you do, that’s what’ll get you through. There are going to be normal days, there are going to be long days, and there are going to be days that seem like they’ll never end. You’re not going to get through those tough days if you don’t actively like what you do. You just won’t – you’re going to hate it. I don’t have that problem, because I love where I am.

Q: It seems like a lot of people put too much pressure on themselves to get a degree just for the sake of getting a degree. Do you see value in that as opposed to pursuing a trade?

I’ve found that people don’t really care about the degree you get unless it’s a really specific field you’re going into. I didn’t know that going into a trade was an option, so I started with a bachelor’s degree, but it didn’t do much for me.

The trade field is so nice because I can go to school part-time, work full-time, and knock out my license within a few years. And no debt! It’s built for success while working, and that makes it much easier and much more realistic for me. I wish trade school was something I’d known about when I was considering my options.

Q: Do you plan to stay in renewables?

Renewables are my favorite for now. If this field develops something that makes more sense or is more efficient, I may move in that direction! But one of my favorite things about renewable energy is that it’s not going anywhere. It’s evolving away from the more antiquated technologies like fossil fuels and old motors, and it’s always changing.

Q: What kinds of exposure and opportunity have you gotten here that you wouldn’t have been able to get elsewhere?

I have been able to work in several areas of the field that helped me determine what I prefer to do. I did some work with the computer “brains” that work the inverters and learned how to troubleshoot them when the need arose. One of those situations where I stepped into a position that wasn’t filled and developed the skills to do what needed to be done.

Because of that, I realized that even though I was good at the troubleshooting and monitoring of systems, it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term, so I trained someone to take that over. Now I’m doing something that really holds my interest.

We’re able to explore so much here at Ideal Energy to find what suits us best – it never gets boring.

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Iowa Congressman Loebsack visits Ideal Energy Solar

Iowa Congressman Loebsack visits Ideal Energy Solar

Iowa Congressman Loebsack visits Ideal Energy Solar Congressman Dave Loebsack talks solar and economic growth with Troy Van Beek and Mayor Ed Malloy. Let's talk about jobs Congressman Dave Loebsack visited Ideal Energy’s office on Friday, February 23rd. The...

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