Based in Durango, Colorado, Shaw Solar can be described as a big fish in a small pond. Opening their doors back in 2006, they initially worked on residential and small commercial solar thermal and PV and some lead-acid battery storage. They are a member of the Amicus Solar Cooperative and a certified B Corp. Today, their core business is still residential, commercial and industrial Solar and Storage including industry leading ecosystems from Tesla and Enphase, but they are expanding to include everything from load management with products like SPAN to next generation EV charging using the F-150 Lightning bidirectional charger to partnering with HVAC contractors to include heat pumps as a supplement to their offerings.
Like most traditional solar companies, Shaw Solar is seeing more complex projects crop up every day. The industry is moving toward electrification fast. That’s one of the biggest benefits of Shaw Solar’s disposition – they’re first and foremost electrical contractors. The founder, John Shaw, is a Master Electrician. Our interviewee for this article, Scott Archer, is also a Master Electrician. In their 20-person company, they have 7 licensed electricians on staff at different levels. That electrical knowledge and experience is how the Shaw team sets themselves apart from their competitors.
But they’re not stopping there. Shaw Solar wants to develop even more knowledgeable decision-makers in the field.
To meet their customers’ needs today and in the future, Scott and the team at Shaw created and are formally registering the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Electrical Apprenticeship program, with some funding support from the Scale-Up Grant from Apprenticeship Colorado in the Office of the Future of Work. The funding will support their apprentices in electrical education training, NABCEP prep courses from HeatSpring, and developing their mentors who will be providing the on-the-job training.
This 8,000-hour program results in journeyperson electricians and NABCEP PV Installation Professionals. Scott’s focus will be on ensuring apprentices have the resources, guidance, and support so that everyone can grow efficiently and smoothly. With an eye to successful programs like ReVision Energy’s apprentice programs, Shaw Solar looks to use this formal apprenticeship program to recruit and strategically incentivize people. No other organization in their region has a program quite like this for employee career growth and development. The hope is that this investment not only builds incredibly talented and knowledgeable electricians, but also loyalty and longevity in employees as a secondary benefit, much like it has for Scott who became a Master Electrician during his time at Shaw. The goal is that apprentices who complete the program will be capable of working on everything from residential to industrial PV systems to EV charging infrastructure to residential and commercial energy storage to demand management or load monitoring.
With the DER Electrical Apprenticeship program, apprentices will have the tools to make informed decisions on work sites and ultimately adapt to the future of electrification. Shaw Solar sees this as absolutely necessary to look at the whole picture of electrification and be able to take on more diverse and complex work projects.
Looking at the whole picture also leads to a better customer experience. Taking a comprehensive approach, Shaw can help their customers take full advantage of the new incentives and rebates included in the Inflation Reduction Act. As Scott mentioned, “Grid-tied PV on its own is a good tool, but it’s not the only tool anymore.”
Building a team of well-trained electricians allows them to respond to their community’s needs, support the renewable energy transition and fight climate change. What could be better?