January 08, 2020
Small Town Solar Spotlights: ELPC Intern Perspective
ELPC’s recent clean energy supply chain reports highlight many industries and stakeholders involved in renewables across Wisconsin and Michigan.
By Nora Zacharski
Conversations around clean energy are often focused on big things—sweeping actions from the government or which state is allocating resources to build a bigger solar array or wind farm. But America’s small towns and small businesses are playing a very important role in the clean energy supply chain. These entrepreneurs are embracing innovation and creating jobs in small town solar. We had the chance to talk to three companies who, despite their size, are making a big impact.
Solectriq– Pickney, MI
Solectriq was founded in 2017 by Nick Schlueter, who realized solar energy’s potential to save consumers money on their energy bills when he installed solar panels on his own home. Schlueter decided to leave the sales industry at 24 to make a difference in the world and share the power of solar with others.
Solectriq’s mission is to provide electricity in an efficient and affordable manner to clients across the state. The company aims to help lower people’s electric bills and dispel the myth that solar won’t work in Michigan because it’s not sunny all the time. Solectriq also wants residents to know that frigid Michigan winters can actually be an asset to solar panels, because arrays function better at lower temperatures. When asked about his motivation to start a solar company, Schlueter replied “If I was going to spend the majority of my adult life working, I wanted to do something that actually made a difference.”
Carlson Electric—Hayward, WI
Carlson Electric is a full-service electric company that focuses on solar installation. Founded in 1977, they have ten employees and service the nearby northwest Wisconsin area. The company concentrates on serving commercial and residential customers who are looking to reduce their electric bills through renewable energy. Carlson Electric does about 100 solar installations per year, each averaging around 7.5 kW. President Dave Carlson feels solar energy is important because “it’s the future—it’s a renewable energy source that requires little maintenance.”
Carlson Electric is involved in their local community as well. They installed 52 solar units for subsidized housing in Sawyer County, WI and plan to install solar panels on the civic center of Spooner, WI.
Blue Terra Energy—Hancock, MI
Blue Terra Energy provides residential solar and energy efficiency services to the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The company is based in Hancock, MI which has been consistently ranked by The Weather Channel as the third snowiest city in America. The town’s average yearly snowfall is 211.9 inches. Despite this, BTE does 5-10 solar installations per year at about 4 kW capacities each.
Blue Terra Energy was founded in 2009 by Dave Camps, who was previously an aerospace engineer. He became interested in carbon emissions and climate change as an engineer, and decided to pursue his passion for fighting climate change when he moved back to the UP to take care of family. Blue Terra Energy gives back to its community by installing solar panels for a section of Hancock that is home to many business incubators. The company also installed a 400-kW array for a Native American tribe, subsidized by a government grant.
Clean energy is growing rapidly across the Midwest, and everyone can benefit, from the biggest cities to the smallest towns. From mom-and-pop shops to big name businesses, we know clean energy entrepreneurs are essential to the Midwestern economy, leading the way toward a green future. For more stories about rural communities investing in solar power, visit http://ruralsolarstories.org/. To read past Supply Chain reports, visit our website.