Finding my way to renewable energy has been quite a journey…
I grew up in Rockland County right outside of New York City, so I am no stranger to incredible feats of architecture and engineering. Being surrounded by the empire state building, the statue of liberty, and one of the more recent buildings-the 9/11 memorial building opened my mind to the power of engineering. Then, in high school, I started exploring the idea of engineering because math and science are my strengths. But engineering is such a broad field and narrowing my focus is a struggle every college student is faced with. Going into my college career at Northeastern University, I knew I wanted to work with renewable energies, and in my mind, research and development seemed like my way to get there. But plans changed as my college career progressed, I started taking a focus in civil engineering and, more specifically, structural engineering. I was able to do three civil engineering internships through Northeastern’s Coop program. I worked for Parsons doing transportation engineering in San Diego, then I worked for A&P Group of Companies as an estimation engineer in Qatar, and for my last internship, I worked for Simpson, Gumpertz, and Heger as a build technology engineer in San Francisco. Each of these experiences were very different but also very enlightening as they gave me more insight into the day and the life of a civil engineer. I came to the realization that I was capable of doing any of these civil engineering jobs, but I see myself doing any one of those jobs for the rest of my life. I got my degree in May graduating cum laude, but my career direction was still unsure.
Renewable energy had always been in the back of my mind throughout college, but I did not know how I could apply my civil engineering background until my brother introduced me to Vivint.solar. My brother was in a bible discussion with a regional manager for Vivint.solar, and through that connection, I was able to meet with him. He told me about the job as an energy consultant and I went to their San Diego North office meeting and I knew I was in the right place.
Vivint.solar is a huge player in the solar industry and has grown tremendously since its conception in 2011. I had never heard of Vivint.solar until I started working for them, and I have found out since then that there are still a lot of people who have not heard of Vivint.solar. So, as an energy consultant, my job is to not only inform people about Vivint.solar but also how we are capable of helping them “go green” in a way most people have not heard of. In California and many other states in the US, there have been many laws passed to push for use of locally produced, renewable energy.
The California Renewable Energy Act is the most relevant law in California and it mandates that by 2026, 50% of California’s power has to be produced locally and in neighborhoods. Many people have looked into buying and leasing solar panels, and for most people, it just did not make sense, or it was too expensive. So, the United States came up with the net metering program which has prepped homes to be able to generate power on site, to help meet these mandated laws. The ower urchase greement (or PPA) is Vivint.solar major product which essentially allows homeowners the opportunity to get cheaper power and solar panels at no expense to them. The PPA is a fully funded program and there is no debt associated with the system because the solar panels are already paid off from government tax incentives and from Vivint.solar. Vivint is one of the only companies in the nation that can do the PPA because we have the investors to pay for all the equipment. The downside about the program is that not all homes are eligible to partake in the PPA program, only about 4 out of 10 homes can actually do it. This is why energy consultants are sent door to door to see which homes qualify and can get green, cheaper power. Most homes that qualify do it because it does not cost them anything and they end up saving anywhere between 30-50% on their utility bills.
I love my job because I get to help people save the planet by using renewable energy and save money, without having to ask them for any money. The excitement of meeting new people is another aspect about the job that I love because every day is different, which is something that can be hard but is ultimately rewarding. I am very confident in what we are doing and Vivint.solar as a company because I personally have met so many people that are grateful for this program. A lot of people ask me why I am doing this instead of civil engineering, and quite frankly it is the opportunity of a lifetime, and personally, for me, it is much more rewarding than the work I was doing as a civil engineer. So, I hope to continue to help people around the country take part in this new, incredible opportunity to reduce burning fossil fuels by using renewable, clean energy while saving money.
Blake Sanders, B.S. in Civil Engineering
Vivint Solar / Simply Brighter
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Blake shares with us how “Renewable Energy has Gone Realistic”
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