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I came to the Solar Living Institute to improve my understanding of sustainability. I wanted to get away from the vague and broad definition of the term by getting involved with an organization that walked the talk. While at SLI, I was awed by the wealth of knowledge shared by Max Meyers on passive solar design and permaculture; I learned about solar installation and design with Doug and worked on an install with Grid Alternatives; I was humbled by the creativity of the little minds who attended our kids summer camps; I helped host the summer workshops and contributed to the first ever, and incredibly successful, Harvest Moon Celebration; I enjoyed yoga, daily group dinners, hiking and lake trips, Reggae on the River and evening talks around the fire with Izzy and the interns; I had the pleasure of calling the Hybrid House my home, the other interns - my family, and the CCOF Intern Garden - my backyard.

After leaving the Solar Living Institute, McGregor moved south from Mendocino to Marin County. There he worked in the regional sales and operations office for fifteen months as a residential solar sales consultant at RGS Energy, a Real Goods Solar Company in San Rafael. There he developed skills in communicating the positive financial aspects of the installation of grid-tied solar photovoltaics to customers in a large territory of Northern California. His customer base spread out across eight counties and he performed consistently as a top revenue generator for the office. In the second half of 2014, was responsible for deploying over 175kW of photovoltaic solar systems in Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa, Alameda, Solano and Mendocino counties. 

Following his formative experiences at RGS, McGregor decided to start his own business and name it Direct Current LLC as an homage to the rudimentary basics of solar 101 driven into his head at SLI. His projects will be engineered and built exclusively by Quattro Solar, a local Marin licensed solar electric contractor with NABCEP certification. This exciting development has empowered our former intern to re-engage his love of learning and become involved in other aspects of the design and installation process. 

The experience at SLI was a learning experience combination of soft skills (learning how to interact/live/work with people from all walks of life), technical skills (taking PV100 and PV200 course and then taking the PVEL certification exam) and organizational skills (working at a non-profit, putting on a major fundraising event etc.).
This experience will be tremendously helpful, not only for the skills I gained, but for the awesome network that I was plugged into, as I go on to work with African Solar Rise, a non-profit helping to electrify Africa.

Emily was the Communications Intern in 2010 and did a stellar job of assisting the department in the areas of community outreach, event management, email marketing, building relationships with groups such as Grid Alternatives, and much more. Prior to her internship, she served as a Policy Advisor at the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, where she coordinated and implemented the province's new Green Energy and Green Economy Act. While at SLI, she trained and qualified for an entry-level credential in Solar Photovoltaic Design and Installation from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

Upon completing her program she set out to help others, as a volunteer in Nicaragua. This involved visiting two sustainable eco-villages that are incorporating a variety of permaculture techniques. She assisted the Solar Women of Totogalpa, a women's cooperative that is establishing a Solar Center in their rural community. Their program is run through a solar organization called Grupo Fenix that originally started out of a push to re-train landmine victims after the war here to become installers. These women build their own solar PV panels and solar cookers out of recycled materials! In addition, she met with blueEnergy and Green Empowerment that offer solar training programs in Nicaragua, for people interested in getting off-grid rural electrification experience in a developing country.

She is currently in Ecuador developing a series of PV projects with an indigenous community in the Amazon. Read her notes from the field.

 

SLI would like to congratulate Stuart Kriendler on opening his renewable energy enterprise EMPower, back in his homeland of Bermuda. Stuart was our 2009 Renewable Energy Workshop Intern and earned his NABCEP Certificate of Knowledge after taking numerous PV workshops through SLI, and is looking forward to becoming a fully Certified PV Installer possibly by Fall. He has also recently completed a comprehensive online energy auditing course and plans to become a Certified BPI Energy Auditor after field testing in the coming weeks. Stuart's business, EMPower, offers PV and Solar Thermal installation (through SunWize Solar out of Willits, CA) as well as energy conservation and efficiency consultation.

According to Stuart, "The idea is to empower people to reduce their carbon footprint and save money at the same time and I think there is a lot of opportunity here to make an honest living by doing some good. I'm looking for steady growth at this point and not rushing into anything too big; there are just so many opportunities and so much interest, but I'll start small by putting a 2kW system on our traditional Bermuda cottage (to put my money where my mouth is!) and I have a few customers lined up looking for installs soon after. Of course there is also a lot of interest on the energy consulting side and I look forward to helping people in this aspect; as energy conservation and efficiency should go hand-in-hand with PV or Solar Thermal."
Stuart has also been in talks with the Bermuda Government about renewable energy policies that would help Bermuda become less fossil fuel dependent as well as empowering lower and middle income citizens. We will follow Stuart's progress in the coming months and wish him the best with his renewable energy endeavors! You can contact Stuart at +(441) 599-2105 or by email.

ABOUT SLI

The Solar Living Institute is a 501 (c)(3) educational nonprofit organization offering instruction in solar training and sustainable practices.  Founded in 1998, we have been providing professional solar training and a wide array of sustainability courses for over 15 years. Our courses are taught by experienced practitioners who bring years of real world knowledge to the classroom with a focus on helping students prepare for job opportunities, start businesses, and live more sustainably.

ACCREDITED BY IREC - Registered Provider of NABCEP

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