GREEN FILES: Solar Power (and Small Wind) in Wisconsin

Ed Stoll was searching for something more than just an everyday electrician's job, particularly after he adopted a little girl from Vietnam to be part of his family in the Milwaukee area.

June 15, 2009

15Stoll ImageEd Stoll was searching for something more than just an everyday electrician’s job, particularly after he adopted a little girl from Vietnam to be part of his family in the Milwaukee area. Ed Stoll was searching for something more than just an everyday electrician’s job, particularly after he adopted a little girl from Vietnam to be part of his family in the Milwaukee area. “I wanted to do something to make the world a better place for my daughter,” said Stoll. “I was searching for something more.”

He found that something: solar and wind power. After taking some classes through the Midwest Renewable Energy Association on weekends, and staying up late at night with his laptop learning about solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and then small wind turbines, Stoll is embarked on a new career. He hopes to soon be certified through the Solar America Cities Program to teach classes on solar and wind electrical work, educating a new generation about job opportunities with renewable energy in the new green economy.

His background in union trades training gives him an advantage. “There are a lot of folks who may have the will to be in the renewable energy installation business, but they don’t have the skill,” he said.

The vast majority of his electrical contracting gigs are rooftop solar PV systems, though he likes the occasional small wind turbine work. “Anytime you can get power from nothing, like the wind, that intrigues me,” Stoll remarked. The thrill of climbing up and down turbine towers “makes it a little more fun” than some solar PV installations, he admitted.

According to REPP, Wisconsin ranks eighth in the nation in potential new manufacturing jobs created for existing companies supplying components for solar, wind, biomass and geothermal power supplies. ‘People don’t realize the range of jobs available in the renewable energy sector. These companies need engineers, accountants and CEO’s, just like any other business.”