LaForge nationally recognized by IREC

Ashland Daily Press:     12/9/16

In September, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council recognized Great Northern Solar CEO Christopher LaForge as the 2016 IREC Certified Clean Energy Instructor/Master Trainer of the Year.

IREC Board Chair Larry Shirley noted in an article on IREC’s website that they are proud to recognize programs, projects and individuals leading the way to a cleaner energy future through the IREC’s 3iAwards, which celebrate Innovation, Ingenuity and Inspiration.

“Their work is creating solutions to today’s complex renewable energy and energy efficiency challenges – changing the national energy conversation and our communities in the process,” said Ken Jurman, IREC board member and chair of the 3iAwards Committee.

 

“I’ve been teaching people how to work with solar electric systems for the last 26 years,” LaForge said. “As part of my working teaching with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, I became a certified instructor.”

According to LaForge, he was certified as a Master Trainer about 11 years ago.

“I’ve been keeping my certifications up and teaching with MREA and with Great Northern Solar’s educational branch and we’ve always held a very high level of quality and high level of training for groups and people,” said LaForge.

IREC certifies teachers, instructors and teaching organizations, LaForge explained.

“Master trainers are qualified not only to train individual contractors and people in a technology but they’re also qualified and they have curriculum for training teachers and setting up curriculum and programs at tech schools and other places,” LaForge said.

LaForge said he has trained many different electrical contractors and other groups.

“We’ve just had a very high level of training that the group decided to recognize and honor this year,” LaForge said. “It’s a very humbling and enjoyable honor because the award comes from a group of peers that I’ve worked in concert with for 20 years … Having them recognize my skill level, determination and my work is really humbling and nice, it reflects a good understanding of what we’ve been trying to do.”

All modesty aside, LaForge said he’s been trying to inspire people to take up renewable energy for a long time.

“It’ll be 30 years in January that the business has been open and having this group that knows my history and my qualifications and has given me the opportunity to work with them over the years, really is a nice reflection on my level of success,” said LaForge.

In the past LaForge has worked with IREC on a number of different things including co-authoring a set of best practices documents called “For Solar Educators & Trainers: Photovoltaic Labs Best Practices.”

“I worked with a couple colleagues – Brian Hurd and Jerry Ventre – for almost two years to put together some great documents so that people can start up their labs,” LaForge said, adding that it was nice to be able to set up a document that would allow people to go online and find some of the best practices for setting up their labs easily.

The workforce for renewable energy needs to grow rapidly to confront the issues we’re facing with the rapidly changing climate, said LaForge.

“It actually turns out to be a wonderful opportunity to bring a whole industry up to the level needed and it basically creates lots of jobs and lots of economic opportunity for entrepreneurs and makes a lot of money,” LaForge said. “A big part of that’s been trying to get the workforce training in place so as the demand grows we’ve got the training set up and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”

According to LaForge, the award represents all the work he and his partner have done with Great Northern Solar for many, many years.

“Great Northern Solar has promoted and advocated for clean energy and sustainable living throughout our 30-year history, promoting a wide range of technologies and activities geared towards making human activity on the planet more viable,” LaForge said. “In that process, we eventually focused in more narrowly on solar electricity, designing, selling, installing and training people how to design, sell and install these systems.”

Because voltaic electricity is the most easily deployed clean energy source, LaForge said they felt it was going to be the one that would grow most quickly and reduce its costs most rapidly.

“I’m happy to say that as an advocate that got into this business we’ve made a good living doing good things,” LaForge said.

There are no ads available in this section (ashland_daily_press/news/laforge-nationally-recognized-by-irec) for this position (fixed-big-ad-middle-asset1).

 

As an industry, he said they have brought the cost of solar electric panels down 98 percent.

“Ninety-eight percent over 30 years, it’s phenomenal,” said LaForge. “As an advocate I’m rather happy that I was right and we’re succeeding.”

About five years ago when the cost came down to about 75 percent of the original costs, LaForge said he realized that renewable energy really is inevitable, regardless of the political gamesmanship that the fossil fuel industry corporations will do to delay its adoption.

“Renewables are quickly becoming the lowest cost opportunity for everything from residential to utility scale electrical generation,” said LaForge. “It’s much more easily deployed, it’s much more moderately scalable and we’re dealing with the key issues of dispatchability and how we can use renewable energy 24/7 right now.”

LaForge said they are now finalizing that part of the building blocks to convert the entire national energy system to renewables.

“The good news is that renewables are going to take over. The question is how long fossil fuels … can slow us down,” said LaForge. “Our hope really is that they will eventually smell the coffee and join the success with renewables.”

A good example of the success they’ve seen happened at Bayfield Electric, LaForge said

“They just put their solar farm in at their headquarters in Iron River,” LaForge said explaining that they were lobbied to do some solar with this utility. “They said ‘OK, let’s put up 100 kilowatts and see how many people buy subscriptions’ and they put up the subscriptions for it and three times that many people responded. They had to triple the size of that solar array.”

This is the kind of momentum LaForge said they’ve been getting with the industry.

“It’s very refreshing,” said LaForge. “Having been in it for 30 years, there’s been a lot of downs along with the ups, but we’re on an upward track … it’s very exciting.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

In September, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council recognized Great Northern Solar CEO Christopher LaForge as the 2016 IREC Certified Clean Energy Instructor/Master Trainer of the Year.

IREC Board Chair Larry Shirley noted in an article on IREC’s website that they are proud to recognize programs, projects and individuals leading the way to a cleaner energy future through the IREC’s 3iAwards, which celebrate Innovation, Ingenuity and Inspiration.

“Their work is creating solutions to today’s complex renewable energy and energy efficiency challenges – changing the national energy conversation and our communities in the process,” said Ken Jurman, IREC board member and chair of the 3iAwards Committee.

 

“I’ve been teaching people how to work with solar electric systems for the last 26 years,” LaForge said. “As part of my working teaching with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, I became a certified instructor.”

According to LaForge, he was certified as a Master Trainer about 11 years ago.

“I’ve been keeping my certifications up and teaching with MREA and with Great Northern Solar’s educational branch and we’ve always held a very high level of quality and high level of training for groups and people,” said LaForge.

IREC certifies teachers, instructors and teaching organizations, LaForge explained.

“Master trainers are qualified not only to train individual contractors and people in a technology but they’re also qualified and they have curriculum for training teachers and setting up curriculum and programs at tech schools and other places,” LaForge said.

LaForge said he has trained many different electrical contractors and other groups.

“We’ve just had a very high level of training that the group decided to recognize and honor this year,” LaForge said. “It’s a very humbling and enjoyable honor because the award comes from a group of peers that I’ve worked in concert with for 20 years … Having them recognize my skill level, determination and my work is really humbling and nice, it reflects a good understanding of what we’ve been trying to do.”

All modesty aside, LaForge said he’s been trying to inspire people to take up renewable energy for a long time.

“It’ll be 30 years in January that the business has been open and having this group that knows my history and my qualifications and has given me the opportunity to work with them over the years, really is a nice reflection on my level of success,” said LaForge.

In the past LaForge has worked with IREC on a number of different things including co-authoring a set of best practices documents called “For Solar Educators & Trainers: Photovoltaic Labs Best Practices.”

“I worked with a couple colleagues – Brian Hurd and Jerry Ventre – for almost two years to put together some great documents so that people can start up their labs,” LaForge said, adding that it was nice to be able to set up a document that would allow people to go online and find some of the best practices for setting up their labs easily.

The workforce for renewable energy needs to grow rapidly to confront the issues we’re facing with the rapidly changing climate, said LaForge.

“It actually turns out to be a wonderful opportunity to bring a whole industry up to the level needed and it basically creates lots of jobs and lots of economic opportunity for entrepreneurs and makes a lot of money,” LaForge said. “A big part of that’s been trying to get the workforce training in place so as the demand grows we’ve got the training set up and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”

According to LaForge, the award represents all the work he and his partner have done with Great Northern Solar for many, many years.

“Great Northern Solar has promoted and advocated for clean energy and sustainable living throughout our 30-year history, promoting a wide range of technologies and activities geared towards making human activity on the planet more viable,” LaForge said. “In that process, we eventually focused in more narrowly on solar electricity, designing, selling, installing and training people how to design, sell and install these systems.”

Because voltaic electricity is the most easily deployed clean energy source, LaForge said they felt it was going to be the one that would grow most quickly and reduce its costs most rapidly.

“I’m happy to say that as an advocate that got into this business we’ve made a good living doing good things,” LaForge said.

There are no ads available in this section (ashland_daily_press/news/laforge-nationally-recognized-by-irec) for this position (fixed-big-ad-middle-asset1).

 

As an industry, he said they have brought the cost of solar electric panels down 98 percent.

“Ninety-eight percent over 30 years, it’s phenomenal,” said LaForge. “As an advocate I’m rather happy that I was right and we’re succeeding.”

About five years ago when the cost came down to about 75 percent of the original costs, LaForge said he realized that renewable energy really is inevitable, regardless of the political gamesmanship that the fossil fuel industry corporations will do to delay its adoption.

“Renewables are quickly becoming the lowest cost opportunity for everything from residential to utility scale electrical generation,” said LaForge. “It’s much more easily deployed, it’s much more moderately scalable and we’re dealing with the key issues of dispatchability and how we can use renewable energy 24/7 right now.”

LaForge said they are now finalizing that part of the building blocks to convert the entire national energy system to renewables.

“The good news is that renewables are going to take over. The question is how long fossil fuels … can slow us down,” said LaForge. “Our hope really is that they will eventually smell the coffee and join the success with renewables.”

A good example of the success they’ve seen happened at Bayfield Electric, LaForge said

“They just put their solar farm in at their headquarters in Iron River,” LaForge said explaining that they were lobbied to do some solar with this utility. “They said ‘OK, let’s put up 100 kilowatts and see how many people buy subscriptions’ and they put up the subscriptions for it and three times that many people responded. They had to triple the size of that solar array.”

This is the kind of momentum LaForge said they’ve been getting with the industry.

“It’s very refreshing,” said LaForge. “Having been in it for 30 years, there’s been a lot of downs along with the ups, but we’re on an upward track … it’s very exciting.”

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