Kim Griffin may be new to the solar industry, but her past experience as a classroom teacher has helped prepare her for the job.
“There is a huge educational component to what I do,” says Kim, who conducts residential solar site assessments for Photovoltaic Systems in Central Wisconsin. “Instead now my students are homeowners and I’m explaining how solar works.”
“I like the education side of it. That is a huge and important part of my life. I will always be an educator first.”
But after eight years teaching in Wisconsin public schools and abroad, Kim was looking for something different that would put her skills to use outside of the classroom and keep the paychecks coming in the summer months.
“I was looking for a profession with longevity and a good future. That’s why I went with renewables.”
She started taking classes at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids. After a year she got her associates degree in renewable energy and started networking in the local solar industry.
She met her future boss and founder of Photovoltaic Systems Jim Kerbel while touring his solar-powered home at a Solar Open House. They met again at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Energy Fair and she started working for Photovoltaic Systems soon after.
She’s been on the job just under a year now, and says loves the challenge of her new career.
“It’s not like going to a factory job or desk job where everything is the same all the time. I am going to somebody’s house and they are different from one another. You need people skills and technical skills to do this job, but there is a creative side to it too.”
“I also like learning new things and solar is something I still have a lot to learn about. I’m really enjoying having this new experience, plus I really like the people I work with.”
Kim particularly enjoys working with homeowners.
“I’ve noticed that overall the type of people who call us for site assessments are really friendly people who care about their environment. They may have giant gardens or drive electric vehicles. It’s fun every day to be talking to people like that.”
It’s not just caring for the environment that is driving people in Central Wisconsin to go solar — the economics plays a big role too.
“The costs have dropped so people who may have not been able to have solar before can now because economically it makes sense.”
For the type of work that Kim does evaluating a home’s potential for solar energy production, summer tends to be the busy season.
“The idea when I started was that I could take a job teaching and do solar in the summers. Solar gives me options for work year-round.”
But it turns out she’s keeping busy all year in the solar business.
“If there was a way I could do both teaching and solar I would. But I like what I do and I may stay in solar forever.”