The unique and dedicated team of people who work at Sol Systems have been a key part of our success over the past 11 years. With a growing staff of more than 60 full-time employees in Washington, D.C., the driven, talented group of industry professionals have created resourceful financing mechanisms for the solar industry and thousands of individual projects. This summer, we will give you an inside look at some of the incredible work our team members have been doing. This week, we are featuring Senior Project Development Manager, William Graves, to hear about his experiences and opportunities at Sol Systems.
1. What sparked your interest in the solar energy industry?
I grew up in Iowa and Kansas, where wind-powered renewable energy dominates the market. My interest in renewable energy started with a fascination in wind energy development. When I moved to Washington, D.C. and began school at American University, I continued to grow that interest. A huge factor that played into my passion was studying aboard in Italy. I saw a lot of solar being developed and deployed there, which sparked my interest in the field. I eventually saw that Sol Systems was hiring interns, so I came on board and fell in love with the industry. I then became a full-time employee and have been for about seven and a half years.
2. What was your work experience prior to working at Sol Systems?
Sol Systems was my first full time job and first true work experience. Prior to that, I worked at a bicycle store, McDonald’s and other various jobs. I actually worked at a Catholic Uniform store run by the mother of an employee here at Sol Systems.
3. What made you pursue a career at Sol Systems?
I was able to foster my interest in renewable energy from the second I started interning at Sol Systems to the moment I was hired. I’ve been here for quite a while, which is rare for someone that is my age. Sol Systems has great people, great teams, so it has been a pleasure working here over the course of my career. I remember [Sol Systems CEO] Yuri Horwitz gifting me a photo of the Dupont Circle Fountain right when I graduated college, something I treasure and keep with me today.
4. What is your favorite part about working at Sol Systems?
It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite part about working here. I consider myself to be a historian at Sol Systems, and watching the company grow and develop tremendously over time is quite incredible. One thing I cherish about working here is the ability to travel, the extent of which is unique to being on the sales team. Since the beginning of the year, I have traveled an average of 200 miles a day. I’ve experienced different parts of the country that I wouldn’t usually explore, acquiring an admiration for areas outside of the major cities.
5. You’ve been here for over 7 years now, how has company culture changed within those 7 years?
It’s incredible to see how the company has slowly progressed over time. When I first began as an intern at Sol Systems, the team was only eight or nine people. We were scrappy, and at the time, we were only focused on SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits). We were trying to grow out a new business model called Sol Market, which was a match making service where products and investors met online to purchase projects through our platform. This launched two new parts of our business: the tax equity business and the acquisitions business, eventually creating the development sector. The most rewarding aspect that I have witnessed would be seeing this scrappy, young company transition into the more mature, but still scrappy company it is today. The team has retained a lot of the same people and it’s fascinating to see them grow as both individuals and professionals. We’ve changed with growth, but we haven’t strayed from our roots.
6. How have you grown within the company?
When I started working here, I was only 20 years old and still in college. Today, I’m a married dog owner with a much more mature lifestyle. Sol Systems gives you the opportunity for vast professional growth in a variety of ways. I began communicating with SREC customers early on in my career, eventually leading to work with developers, and to now pitching Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) to commercial and municipal clients. Over time, my confidence to present and persuade others to consider solar has dramatically increased. I’ve learned a lot about how the energy market works and how solar fits into that market. The solar energy industry is rapidly changing, so you are constantly learning new information over time. We also need to know about the industries we are working with like wastewater treatment facilities and manufacturers so we can understand how best to help them save money with solar.
7. Outside of Sol Systems, what do you like to do for fun?
In my free time, I love to hang out with my dog by going to the park or going on walks. My wife and I also like to cook a lot and try new restaurants. Traveling is a passion of mine, as well. We recently went to France, Croatia and Italy. I also enjoy the typical Sol Systems activities such as running, hiking, biking, being outdoors, paddle boating, reading and listening to audio books.
Are you interested in joining the Sol Systems family? Visit our careers page to see which career opportunities we are currently offering.
ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS
Sol Systems, a national solar finance and development firm, delivers sophisticated, customized services for institutional, corporate, and municipal customers. Sol is employee-owned, and has been profitable since inception in 2008. Sol is backed by Sempra Energy, a $25+ billion energy company.
Over the last ten years, Sol Systems has delivered 800 MW of solar projects for Fortune 100 companies, municipalities, universities, churches, and small businesses. Sol now manages over $650 million in solar energy assets for utilities, banks, and Fortune 500 companies.
Inc. 5000 recognized Sol Systems in its annual list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for four consecutive years. For more information, please visit www.solsystems.com