Combining solar and education to power future generations

Credit: ReachCollaborative.com

Credit: ReachCollaborative.com

You know the saying “knowledge is power.” It’s true. But what happens when you combine knowledge with power? One solar company is doing just that to create “green leaders” around the world.

AMSOLAR is setting a new standard for its industry by including education and community awareness with their projects. Until recently the company focused their energy primarily on educational facilities and used their projects as tools to educate others about the benefits of renewable energy. They are now expanding their reach to include municipalities and commercial projects.

AMSOLAR’s commitment to education is also helping to create future industry leaders by providing undergraduate and graduate grants for innovative uses of renewable technologies through their corporate giving and community action program, AMSOLAR GIVING. While most students are encouraged to reach for the stars, AMSOLAR encourages them to reach for the one big star that our solar system’s planets revolve around. Then, harness its energy to help create a brighter future here on earth.

With 3,000 facilities installed worldwide and more projects ahead, the sun isn’t setting on AMSOLAR any time soon.

Our guest interviewee this week is Jared Quient the Vice President of Project Development for AMSOLAR. We welcome his insights.

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What does AMSOLAR provide its customers?
AMSOLAR provides world-class solar development services and finance capabilities for its customers. We provide a turnkey solar project from soup to nuts with no up-front cost to our customers with energy savings from day one.

AMSOLAR's approach (Credit: AMSOALR)

AMSOLAR’s approach
(Credit: AMSOALR)

What is the market niche that AMSOLAR is filling?
AMSOLAR started out focusing primarily on educational entities as its target market. Over the last 18 months, we have added to our focus and now work with municipalities and commercial clients to go along with our educational customers.

Your company advertises that it develops solar energy facilities for customers with no up-front capital commitment. How is it able to compete with other vendors using this model?
We bring best-in-class partnerships in both construction as well as financial institutions that own and operate the systems long term. It is because of these relationships and proven track record of completing complex systems for our customers that separates us from the competition. Also, we bring a robust community action program along with each of our projects to ensure the project engages the broader public about the benefits of renewable energy.

AMSOLAR was selected by the San Diego Unified School District to install a 5.2 megawatt solar project that includes 80 roof tops and 20 sites. (Credit: AMSOLAR)

AMSOLAR was selected by the San Diego Unified School District to build a multi-megawatt solar project. Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2012.
(Credit: AMSOLAR)

Your company has a unique approach to partnering with educational institutions. Please walk our readers through how AMSOLAR works with these educational institutions.
Our unique approach starts with understanding what is motivating our education clients to go solar. Like any public sector client, the bottom line savings of the project is always a high priority. But with schools, there is invariably an administrator or teacher involved in the process who is pushing the project for educational reasons. We make sure that we target our discussions to ensure that the benefits of the project support these needs that can include educating students and the community-at-large. As part of the process, we work to make sure we include sites that make sense economically, but also ones that may be politically advantageous as well.

What marketing opportunities or benefits do these types of partnerships create?
Solar provides an opportunity to create public/private partnerships in the truest sense of the concept. We are working hand-in-hand with our customers to develop a customized solar project that will support “hard” benefits of saving money from day one and hedge against future utility rate increases, while supporting the “soft” needs of our customers.

AMSOLAR also positions its clients as “green leaders” in their communities. What ways have proven to be the most successful to helping your clients become community leaders?
As a typical example, we plan a big public relations event around the completion of the system. These events will include local, state or sometimes even national dignitaries and have proven to be an excellent way to showcase our clients as forward thinking green leaders. We have also directly funded the development of LEED certification activities and other renewable programs.

AMSOLAR's 1.2 Megawatt solar panel project at the University of San Diego. (Credit: AMSOLAR)

AMSOLAR’s 1.2 Megawatt solar panel project at the University of San Diego.
(Credit: AMSOLAR)

Another unique feature of your company is AMSOLAR GIVING. This corporate giving program supports education, awareness, and community initiatives related to solar power. What are some of the initiatives AMSOLAR Giving has supported so far?
As part of our partnership with the University of San Diego, AMSOLAR funded a student grant program to support graduate and undergraduate projects that are focused on the innovative use of renewable technologies. The first grant was awarded to a team of four undergraduate Engineering students. Their senior year project, Engineering a Brighter Sudan, culminated in the design and construction of an off-grid solar system at a school in the village of Theou in the newly-independent South Sudan. One of the team members, Mou Riiny, is originally from Theou and raised $100,000 to build the village’s school.  In addition to the grant, the AMSOLAR GIVING team also served as mentors for the USD students in everything from vetting system components and design to fundraising and logistics coordination.

AMSOLAR has already installed more than 3,000 facilities worldwide. What are some projects that your company is currently working on that the public should know about?
We just completed a 2.4 MW project with Rio Rancho Public Schools in New Mexico that is the largest solar power purchase agreement with a public school district in the state. The project had some significant challenges, including state-level approvals, but working together with the District we were able to manage those issues and build a successful project.  We also are finishing a 4 MW system with the Town of Marshfield in Massachusetts.

Credit: Solar Energy Industries Association

Credit: Solar Energy Industries Association

Are there any parting thoughts you’d like to share with our readers about how they can be wise consumers of the many innovative energy products hitting the marketplace?
Ask questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb question. Also, realize that today’s solar is a mainstream technology, one that is well understood by investors and customers alike. Newer technologies face a significant challenge to reach the level of acceptability that solar has in the broad market. There is truly no better time than right now to understand how solar, and systems financed by PPAs, can benefit your constituents.

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 We are looking forward to seeing more AMSOLAR projects on the horizon and a whole new generation of renewable energy advocates.

Liz Faris, Account Manager
Collaborative Services, Inc.

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “Combining solar and education to power future generations

  1. […] • Jared Quient, Vice President of AMSOLAR […]

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