(Solar) Electric Outer Banks Avenue

Howdy there party people, I’m Kurt and the past few months I’ve been up to some real electric stuff. But really though, I’ve been working with Solar Services Inc., which is a solar installation group out of Virginia Beach. I have had the pleasure to work alongside many of the staff at Solar Services but Arthur Fichter, the sales representative of the organization, has primarily mentored me during my internship.

My internship is split into two intersecting parts: Outer Banks solar development and general research on the solar industry. Outer Banks solar development is the main goal of my internship but the research has assisted me in in promoting solar. In order to promote solar development on the Outer Banks, I have been reaching out to OBX town managers in order to discuss the possibility of installing affordable solar projects in their respective towns. Through this process, I have learned a lot about how towns make decisions but also about the ins and outs of installing solar.

My days every Monday and every other Wed vary greatly due to the two-pronged nature of my internship. Some days my internship is more research based and other days my internship is more about solar development. At the beginning of the semester, my internship was much more solar development based. During September, I got the chance to go to the Nags Head Town Hall where Arthur, Corey Adams (my research mentor), and I talked to the town planner and manager. We came up with two different potential solar projects for the town: one for a new construction and one for an existing building. After the meeting, Arthur and I took some rough measurements of the existing building so that the Solar Services design manager could begin a proposal for the town.

The following week, I drove up to Virginia Beach in order to learn from Will, the Solar Services design specialist, about how to design rooftop solar arrays and how to craft a solar estimate. It was an enlightening experience and one of the best days of my internship despite the two-hour drive. The proposal and estimate for Nags Head was finalized and sent in the week after my visit to Solar Services; although, the town will now need to vote on and finance the proposal, which will take at least a couple more months. Therefore, Arthur and I have begun speaking with other towns such as Manteo in order to promote more solar for the Outer Banks.

When I’m not driving to Virginia Beach or talking to OBX town officials, I am researching the global solar industry in order to supplement my knowledge for the solar development part of my internship. Topics I have touched on are US laws on net metering, European renewable energy, and current events surrounding the US solar industry. One topic I have covered extensively is the Suniva International Trade Commission case. For those who are unfamiliar, Suniva is a bankrupt US based PV cell and module manufacturer that is calling for tariffs on cheap imported PV cells and modules. The US solar industry is booming at the moment so the industry is predominantly opposed to the tariff recommendations of Suniva because these tariffs could ravage the US solar market. The ITC recently submitted recommendations to President Trump, which incorporated some tariff measures but nothing remotely close to the industry killing Suniva proposals.

Overall, I have very much enjoyed my internship and would like to thank Corey and Arthur for helping me along. I have been interested in the solar industry for quite sometime now and it is awesome to see how the industry works from the inside.