People of the 10th anniversary Top Solar Contractors list: Karl Jaeger, LightWave Solar
How did you get started in solar energy?
After graduating from university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do professionally with my life. So instead of jumping into any random career, I spread my wings and spent the next six years working as a tour guide taking people from other countries on road trips across North America and living the good life in Breckenridge, Colorado. A random friend I met on the road had said that because of my engineering education and love for the environment I should go into wind or solar energy – I knew right away that he was right. A year later I moved from Breckenridge to Boulder and applied to 20 electricians to become an apprentice electrician. Only one called me back but one was all I needed. A few years later, Colorado adopted the nation’s first sustainable portfolio standard for its electric utilities. My boss was open to a solar branch of the company, so I read solar energy books every day to make it happen. We made contacts within the young industry and my career in solar energy officially started. Fast forward many years and it was all round… I am now an engineer and master electrician at LightWave Solar.
What is your favorite part of working in the solar industry?
Be part of the climate solution.
What has surprised you most about the solar industry in the past 10 years?
Efficiency gains and material cost reduction. I remember how people were ecstatic when the module cost was reduced to $3/Watt.
What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?
The industry will get around the restrictive and unnecessary nature of rapid PV shutdown by creatively implementing the new UL 3741 standard. Solar energy will continue to gain efficiency and reduce costs, while non-renewable energy sources will continue to move in the opposite direction. The carbon tax will become a reality, boosting the momentum of solar and other renewables. Also energy storage… and a lot.
How Does the Best Solar Contractors List Help Your Business?
It sets us apart from our competitors and shows us that our hard work has not gone unnoticed.
Do you have any special memories of the list or the Gala from the past 10 years?
I was at the Gala at SPI in 2014 to receive a Top Contractor award on behalf of LightWave Solar. I was very proud to represent my company because I knew how hard we had worked to get this recognition. I also had such a great time talking to other industry professionals – solar employs some of the best people.