For the 10th anniversary of the Top Solar Contractors list, we’re sharing Q&A’s with the people who make the industry run every day. Read more interviews here.
How did you get started in solar?
I started as an intern at Blattner in 2006 working on wind energy projects. As the renewable energy industry advanced, I helped the company explore solar energy construction. In 2013, Blattner started building a portion of our business around solar and a year after that, the company had fully built out its solar energy service offering. Blattner is passionate about people and thrives on collaborative relationships and innovation — which are a few of the reasons Blattner has been so successful within renewable energy. It’s also why I still enjoy working in the wind and solar energy space at Blattner today.
What is your favorite part about being in the solar industry?
It’s awesome to see where solar is going. It’s exciting being involved with all of the strategic thinkers and innovators who are taking a market that only 10 years ago was emerging and structuring it into a force to be reckoned with. Another thing I enjoy about working in solar is seeing how everybody is pulling together and getting better at developing this sustainable market. It’s truly a benefit to have great competitors in this market. We’re making the industry better. Solar is very dynamic — there are innovations in solar modules, opportunities in efficiencies and many advances ahead. I think we’re just getting started. We’re working with the largest IPPs, the utilities, plus non-traditional oil and gas companies that are all are getting behind solar and pushing it to places we can’t even anticipate.
What has surprised you the most about the solar industry in the last 10 years?
The unbelievable ramp rate of this market. We knew that it was going to grow quickly, but I don’t think any of us imagined that it would grow this fast. And that we’ve been able to sustain the pace — that the developers, the owners, the EPCs and supply chain were all able to keep up. I’m going to look back someday and be amazed at what we went through.
What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?
Looking ahead, solar is off the charts in terms of growth potential as the wind market starts to even out. When you compound that potential with solar + storage, the outlook gets really exciting. Blattner is doing a lot of storage today and we’re gearing up to do even more. Storage technology enables us to provide power even when the sun is not shining and that moved it into its own realm.
In 24 years, Blattner has built 50,000 megawatts of renewable energy — and we’ll build the next 50,000 in five to seven years because the market will demand it. The growth in renewables is going to continue to grow from there. Twenty years ago, the markets weren’t there because there weren’t many opportunities for it. Even so, we built a third of the wind market in the country and a strong share of the solar market. Today, the markets are here, and they are strong. From the workforce, customers and suppliers to the corporate purchasers, private sectors and consumers demanding more clean energy — we’re going to have to build it.
How did you/your company stand out in the last year?
Thanks to our incredible nationwide team, I’m proud to say that Blattner hit an industry milestone that few, if any, other renewable energy contractors ever have. We officially crossed the 50,000-megawatt milestone. In just over two decades, we’ve installed 25,000+ wind turbines and nearly 32 million solar modules. All while knowing how that work has impacted our world and made it better for generations to come, which is priceless. We really started diving into more solar + storage, too. Last year alone, in the middle of a worldwide upheaval, we worked hard to keep our teams safe and installed more than 6,400 MW of renewable energy. We finished over 40 renewable energy phases for 37 projects. That doesn’t happen without a dedicated team of leaders, innovators and partners.
How are you/your company helping to improve the industry?
Blattner leads by what should be done and delivering certainty in construction. So, we’re pushing into the better technology, looking for the next solution and seeking innovation for the greater good. We know there’s room to become smarter, safer and at the forefront of driving positive change. We are driven to improve and build our team which is why we put a priority on investing in our employees and listening to them now more than ever to make their lives better and safer. That’s just another way Blattner leads in doing what should be done, not what has been done. Through our innovations and advancements, we’re doing our part to make renewables competitive with traditional power generation methods. We’re constantly improving, growing and changing with the industry.
Business development has been so different in the last year. How has the way you’ve “conducted business” been different?
The connections are different, but they’re still very personal. We may not be shaking hands and going to meetings, but we’ve found different, practical, meaningful and respectful ways to connect. After 16 years of being on the road full time, I’ve found that we don’t need to travel across the country to have a two-hour meeting with 10 people to get the job done. We’ve all become more efficient with our time and respectful of people’s work/life balance. That gives everyone some of their quality of life back. Because of that, and the trust we’ve established, we’re doing amazing things with our customers. We’re just getting started. At Blattner, we will continue to focus on our clients and focus on the people who work for us. At the end of the day, that’s what’s making this market what it is. It is the people and the relationships that power us forward.