In 2014, I was experiencing a lot of change and transformation from “who I was to who I wanted to become” in my personal and professional life.
In my new outlook on my more immediate surroundings, through a series of interesting conversations and encounters, I found myself attending a two-week PV solar training class. Prior to attending this class, it’s worth mentioning I had absolutely zero interest or experience in renewable energy, solar electric, or construction for that matter.
However, during this two-week solar training, I would often think to myself, “I’ve become out of touch with nature, and I take the sun for granted.”
I had a feeling of being socially responsible after learning about PV solar electric energy and the abundance of free, clean energy our sun provides. The solar class ended; however, a personal and professional journey began.
I started a new career in the solar industry and simultaneously sought to learn more about renewable and non-renewable energy and their effects on the environment. I took a closer look at myself and my family’s carbon footprint. I gained new knowledge of humanity’s impact on the environment and possible solutions to some of the economic woes like paying energy bills. I was determined to do my part in educating and information sharing.
In 2016, I started a solar youth education and community outreach program called Just B Solar. The program promotes clean energy with hands-on projects, conscious energy usage habits, field trips to local government agencies, as well as visiting local solar companies and solar installations project sites. I must absolutely mention and thank Mike Arquin, Owner of Kid Wind, for all of his support, ranging from curriculum, teaching tools, to conversation over lunch. I have to thank Greg Lafontain, an electrician, for his mentoring and sharing of all his solar installation knowledge over the years.
Motivated to be the change I want to see, I sought out organizations and individuals that I could learn from and that aligned with my newly found perspective and outlook on the planet.
One of the more notable organizations was a co-op called Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF). I became a member of the co-op and have served on the board of directors for the last six years. CEF develops solar projects, more specifically “Community Solar Gardens” or “CSG,” that gives underserved, financially strapped individuals, families, and whole communities access to clean affordable energy.
I’ve had the privilege to be a part of some very meaningful and impactful projects. Some examples include: the “Solar for Affordable Housing” project; working in Singapore; being the lead installer and subscriber on the first community solar garden in my city, the first of its kind in many ways; and working with school districts and city governments to develop work force “Green Career” training.
Being involved and hands-on with a project from the point of being nothing more than a thought, to moving to a few small conversations, to the point of completion, functioning and producing energy is a rewarding feeling every time.
I’ve been on what I refer to as my solar journey every day since I was reintroduced to the sun in 2014.
My name is Keith M. Dent, I started my career in the solar industry in 2015. My work experience range from Solar Tech, Residential and Commercial Solar Project Manager to Lead Installer on the first community solar garden in Minneapolis, MN. In 2016 started JUST B SOLAR. A youth and young adult, PV solar electric and renewable energy organization. We focus on education, green career training and community outreach. I also serve on the board of directors for a solar project development, Co-op responsible for projects such as, solar for affordable housing, with the belief clean affordable energy should be accessible to all.