What does “NABCEP Certified” Actually Mean?

Arch Electric - Wisconsin Solar Installation Experts - What is NAPCEP & Why Does it Matter Article December 30, 2020 8:17 pm
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There’s no doubt that we are truly into the solar boom. Despite the covid-19 pandemic, the United States has installed a record-breaking 19 gigawatts of solar energy in 2020, compared to 13.3 gigawatts in 2019, according to pvtech.org. That is enough energy to provide 2,843,019 homes with electricity for a year. With constant improvements in technology and new solar companies that seem to crop up every day, navigating such a booming industry can confuse anyone unfamiliar with solar energy or renewables.
Every American industry has built itself from the ground up, from the workers who laid the railroads that crisscrossed the nation to accountants who manage the world’s wealth. An essential part of each growing industry was the certification organizations that provided the standards for each profession.
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is the most widely recognized certification organization for professionals in the field of renewable energy. Almost every industry develops certification organizations, from Finance (CPA) to Project Management (PMI). These organizations not only develop the profession; they protect and empower the consumer. NABCEP helps renewable energy employers evaluate potential new hires, analyze job performance, evaluate employees, select contractors, market services, and provide employees with resources to enhance their skills and knowledge.
Arch Electric is proud to have an exceptional number of NABCEP certified team members in roles ranging from consulting with Arch customers, designing photovoltaic systems, and performing solar installations. Our experienced professionals have shared their thoughts on the importance of NABCEP and how they see the future of solar energy in Wisconsin:

 

 

 

 

Angie Kochanski: Solar Experience Manager

1.Why did you join the solar industry?

I realized pretty young that meaningful work was essential to my happiness and well being. I’ve never been any good at just working for a paycheck and knew that I would need a career that I could believe in, and that serves a great purpose for me to feel a sense of success. I strived to accomplish that goal, and in my efforts, solar found me! By chance, luck, an act of God, my stars aligning, or whatever you want to call it, my resume arrived at a company that was manufacturing solar panels in Milwaukee. I had no idea who the company was or how they found me, but at that moment, those details didn’t matter because I was desperate for a job and would have taken any interview I could get. Meaningful work was a luxury I could figure out later. All in all, joining the solar industry was a bit of a serendipitous occurrence beyond my control. Once I landed in that world, I became hooked, and the rest is history.

2. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

Credibility. I’ve absorbed so much knowledge over the years of being in various industry sectors, but there’s something to be said about having that knowledge defined on paper. I think it’s essential to be a credible source for my clients.

3. What’s your favorite aspect of your job, and what challenges you?

It’s fun to talk about solar! It unites people from all walks of life and gives people hope for the future. The challenge is keeping up with what’s new and changing. It’s an ever-evolving industry.

 

4. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading?

It has been a bumpy ride for solar in Wisconsin. I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs over the past decade, and just when you think it’s about to stabilize- it’s not! Haha, but no really, this time I think it is! The market is just now starting to mature in Wisconsin. This year especially, solar has proven that it is recession-proof. The potential for solar to be a stable source for job creation and a reliable source of renewable energy is there; neither has to be outsourced!

 

 

Justin Van Camp: Lead PV Designer

1. Why did you join the solar industry?

 Joining the solar industry has been a dream of mine since my freshman year of college. I hoped to educate the benefits of renewable energies to reduce our carbon footprint, minimizing the use of coal and natural gas in our communities. By doing this, we can fight the growing concerns of climate change and continue practicing sustainable solutions. 

 2. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP certification?

I wanted to get my certification to have more in-depth expertise within the solar industry. After receiving the certification, it was easier to teach consumers that solar is a viable option worth investing in. I would recommend anyone, even people who are not in the solar industry, to get a NABCEP certification to spread awareness of what solar can do.

 3. What’s your favorite aspect of your job, and what challenges you?

My favorite aspect of being the designer for Arch Electric is that I can influence each system to be its most efficient and best overall system that it can be. It gives me great satisfaction and pride in my responsibilities to see my projects installed and also challenges me because there are many aspects in designing each system that affects the overall efficiency. 

4. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading?

The hope is that the solar industry will continue to grow in WI. and that the FITC would be extended to help people see solar as an affordable financial option. Solar will never go away and will continue to be a wise investment progressing the planet’s health. This needs to continue for life to thrive on planet earth.

 

Ed Zinthefer: President, Owner

  1. Why did you join the solar industry? 

Solar, as an already proven renewable technology here in the Midwest, lacked professional trade involvement. As an electrician, I was intrigued by the opportunity to provide professional service to an industry historically comprised of “do it yourselfers.”

2. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification? In 2003 – 20010ish, focus on energy incentives required NABCEP certified installers to perform installations for customers to receive financial incentives. At that time, FOE incentives ranged in value from $25K to $150K, so a typical customer would not consider a non-NABCEP certified installer. 

3. What’s your favorite aspect of your job, and what challenges you? 

 My favorite aspect is the opportunity to provide a professional service to what I consider an underserved market coupled with providing successive good-paying job opportunity. 

4. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading? 

This industry is in its infancy. In time, most homes and buildings will have solar with batteries. In addition, there will be an increase in building & maintaining utility-owned generation. 

 

Jenny Conrardy: Electrical Apprentice

  1. Why did you join the solar industry?

It resonated with my philosophies on the importance of renewable and sustainable practices. Formerly, I applied these ideas to food and agriculture, and making a segue into electrical work under the same principles offered a really great opportunity for me to expand my boundaries on how I interpreted being a good steward of the earth.

Additionally, I wanted to have the opportunity to learn more about the technical aspect of solar and electrical, so this was a perfect fit!

 

  1. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

I wanted to find a way to learn about solar installation- techniques for installing along with how the panels function. I am new to the industry, so it was important to me to gain a good understanding of what I was working with.  I have a friend who has worked in the solar industry for 15 years, and he suggested getting a NABCEP certification. The courses worked wonderfully for providing foundational knowledge on PV.

 

  1. What is your favorite aspect of your job and what challenges you?

My favorite aspect IS being challenged! Mentally and physically, solar requires you to be present and be your best every day. It requires you to be humble by respecting the power you work with. It requires you to be disciplined by following specific installation techniques and by adhering to a rigorous schedule and workload each day. It requires you to be fully aware in order to keep safety in the forefront of your mind for the benefit of your team, your company, and yourself, and in order to make sure that each detail of a system is recognized and properly tended to.

It takes effort to gain the knowledge required to be a great installer, but when you apply yourself to learning, you can tell immediately that it pays off- not only do the aesthetics of your installation improve, but the complete understanding of how the system operates allows you to be a more valuable team member.

 

  1. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading? 

It feels like we are at the tip of an iceberg. Solar has been gaining a new identity in the last decade, with huge technological improvements in the design of the panels, increased energy output, greater efficiency, and vastly better battery storage. This, paired with a burgeoning cultural focus on the importance of deviating from fossil fuels and shifting to renewables, forms a paradigm shift in how people feel like they can relate to and participate in solar energy.

 

Mike Cornell: CIO

  1. Why did you join the solar industry? 

I was at the end of my automotive career in 2009, didn’t like the idea of retirement, and saw nothing to look forward to. I met Elon Musk and Ed Zinthefer within months of each other, after having decades of motivation to do something cleaner than cars.  Solar and EV are very clean, and I sought opportunities to work in those fields.  Both offered an opportunity, Ed happened to be that best place at the time.

  1. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

NABCEP is the highest accreditation one can have in the US to be legitimate in solar.  I always take the high road and hold our staff to the same expectation.

  1. What’s your favorite aspect of your job and what challenges you? 

I’ve got the best job in the world, in fact, it’s not a job, it’s a life worth living.  I go on with my day like I’m doing my own thing, despite some hiccups here and there with permitting, utility requirements, customer dissatisfaction, and the like.  My greatest challenge is the customer experience, I’m indefatigable about providing the best experience.  I always say we don’t sell solar systems, we provide a first-class solar experience.

  1. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading?

Where the coasts are now is where we’ll be in 3-5 years.  There will be mandates to include solar in new construction, incentives for commercial solar, improvements in technologies like bifacial panels and micro-inverters.  And storage will become 20% of every solar installation in the same time frame.

Andrew H: Commercial Solar Experience Consultant 

  1. Why did you join the solar industry?

It is an ever-changing, fascinating technology that can be portable and provide power just about anywhere.  Who doesn’t love a sunny day?

  1. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

To represent what I stand for, including NABCEP’s code of ethics.

  1. What’s your favorite aspect of your job and what challenges you?

My favorite part is visiting sites during construction.  Being involved in Wisconsin’s adoption of solar: policies, requirements, and technologies are always changing, so staying up to date on the most current information and innovation is an exciting challenge.

  1. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading?

I see the adoption of micro-grids for communities, business partners, and homeowners being adopted through utilizing solar, wind, hydro, and battery storage systems.  This will allow transmission wires to be maintained on a smaller-easier to manage-level.

 

Dan Steinhardt: Commercial & Industrial Solar Experience Consultant

  1. Why did you join the solar industry?

To help give customer’s a clean, renewable form of energy that can be generated onsite.

  1. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

To gain a better understanding of the solar design and installation techniques.

  1. What’s your favorite aspect of your job and what challenges you?

It’s exciting for me to see that solar works in Wisconsin, the annual energy projections we provide are on target.  It has become a cost-effective way to produce energy in WI!

  1. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading?

I see continued growth in roof or ground mount customer-owned systems.  Customer-owned solar systems are a cost-effective way to take the next big step in their corporate energy or sustainability goals. Meanwhile, a lot more utilities are getting involved in large scale Solar PV systems.  I look forward to helping them manage, design, or install those systems.

 

Jeff Ray: Director of Finance

  1. Why did you join the solar industry? 

I’ve always had a high level of interest in the renewable industry.  It’s nice to come to work knowing you’re part of the solution.

2. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

NABCEP certification is one of many key indicators that help establish one’s overall level of commitment to the Solar industry

  1. What’s your favorite aspect of your job and what challenges you?

Hearing how excited and enthusiastic our customers become once their solar has been installed.

  1. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading?

Straight up!  The financial piece of the puzzle has been established which will only propel this underserved market to new heights.

Erich Bakke: QAQC Specialist

1. Why did you join the solar industry?

I was ready for a change in my career and felt that the solar industry offered the best return on my education.

2. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

After receiving my Associate’s Degree in PV, it was the next step to affirm my dedication to the industry and my employer.

3. What’s your favorite aspect of your job and what challenges you?

Teaching best practice and problem-solving. We have a great group of employees that are hungry to learn.

Challenges are many but one that stands out is the diversity of technical skill levels.

4. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading?

I see tremendous growth in the industry for Wisconsin.

The Utilities, local Governing bodies, and special interest groups are driving the industry to new heights.  It is going to be very interesting to see what the coming years bring to Solar.

 

Chadd Breit: Electrical Apprentice & Field Operations

  1. Why did you join the solar industry?

I joined the solar industry when looking for my next career after retiring from the military. I wanted to join a trade and one which was in the renewable energies area. Electrician was the trade I decided to pursue, and solar was a natural partner as I noticed. I knew a little about solar, and as I was exposed to it more through my employment with Arch Electric… the solar industry was exploding.

  1. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

I didn’t even know what NABCEP was until Arch Electric offered an opportunity to take some of their courses. After some research, I thought this would be a great opportunity to improve my knowledge, understanding, and viability in my career.

  1. What’s your favorite aspect of your job and what challenges you?

I enjoy brainstorming, creating, and building solar arrays with many of my great coworkers.

The one aspect I do not enjoy totally is the weather.  I dislike working in the heat of summer or in the rain and mud. But, these are a necessary evil

  1. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading ?

I believe solar in Wisconsin seems to be extremely mainstream now due to affordability, this includes utilities and municipalities as well.  Solar in Wisconsin I believe is just starting to really take off, I see this continuing for many years to come.

Matt Simonson: Electrical Apprentice & O&M Tech

  1. Why did you join the solar industry?

It is a new but flourishing industry that piqued my interest.

  1. What was your motivation in working to receive your NABCEP Certification?

It was a great way to learn more and added value to me and my skills as well as adding value for the company.

  1. What’s your favorite aspect of your job and what challenges you?

I’m O&M so troubleshooting and problem-solving are challenging but enjoyable aspects of my job.

  1. Where do you see the future of solar in WI heading?

I see it continuing to grow but I think the operations and maintenance side of things will grow significantly in Wisconsin as many of the early adopters will require maintenance and all of the commercial systems will require preventive maintenance.

 

Other NABCEP certified team members include

Dennis Wells: Journeyman Electrician

Charles Schlessinger: Electrical Apprentice 

 

 

 

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