People of the 10th anniversary Top Solar Contractors list: Karl Jaeger, LightWave Solar

For the 10th anniversary of the Top Solar Contractors list, we’re sharing Q&A’s with the people who make the industry run every day. Read more interviews here.

How’d you get started in solar?

After graduating college I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my life professionally. So, instead of jumping into a random career, I spread my wings and spent the next six years working as a tour leader taking people from other countries on road trip tours of North America as well as living the good life in Breckenridge, Colorado. A random friend I met along the way had mentioned that I should get into wind or solar due to my engineering education and love for the environment — I instantly knew he was right. A year later I moved from Breckenridge to Boulder and applied with 20 electrical contractors to become an apprentice electrician. Only one called me back but one was all that I needed. A couple of years after that, Colorado adopted the first renewable portfolio standard in the nation for its electric utilities. My boss was open to having a solar branch of the company so I read books on solar every day to make it happen. We made contacts within the young industry and my career in solar officially began. Fast forward many years and it all came full circle… I am now an engineer and master electrician at LightWave Solar.

What’s your favorite part about being in the solar industry?

Being a part of the climate solution.

What has surprised you the most about the solar industry in the last 10 years?

Efficiency gains and material cost reduction. I remember how people were ecstatic when module cost was reduced to $3/Watt.

What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?

The industry will sidestep the confining and unnecessary nature of PV rapid shutdown by creative implementation of the new UL 3741 standard. Solar will continue to gain efficiencies and lower costs while non-renewables continue to trend in the opposite direction. Carbon tax will become a reality, which will further the momentum of solar and other renewables. Also energy storage… and lots of it.

How does the Top Solar Contractors list help your company?

It sets us apart from our competitors and shows us that our hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Do you have any special memories around the list or the Gala over the last 10 years?

I was at the Gala at SPI in 2014 to accept a Top Contractor award on behalf of LightWave Solar. I was very proud to represent my company as I knew how hard we had worked to gain this recognition. Also, I had such a great time chatting with other industry professionals — solar employs some of the best folks.