In November 2023, Solar Washington interviewed Ryan Bradt, a longtime member, former board member and Solar Summit participant who shared his enthusiasm about solar.
Solar Washington: Ryan, how did you become interested in solar?
Ryan Bradt: Way back in 1998 I first became interested in solar energy as a commercial electrician apprentice at the Northwest Washington Electrical J.A.T.C. As a part of our apprenticeship, we had a short lesson on solar electricity and the then just blossoming industry. The class included the instructor cooking a hotdog with the leads of a PV module to demonstrate the potential power of the sun and associated hazard. In 2008 I found myself in that same classroom as an instructor and saw a need to expand our solar PV curriculum. I reached out to Solar Energy International, got included in a DOL training grant for instructors and as they say the rest is history.
SW: Why did you join Solar Washington and what do you expect from Solar Washington?
RB: I was encouraged to join Solar Washington by my Mentor and Shoreline College Instructor, Mike Nelson. Mike encouraged all his students in the Clean Energy program at Shoreline to get involved in the industry. He was also probably looking for all the free help he could get putting on the Solar Summit in those days. My expectation of Solar Washington in those days and today are the same, to create a place where everyone in the industry can come together. From contractors to electricians, utilities to policy writers, and passionate students to homeowners. Solar Washington should provide a platform for all!
SW: How was your experience on the Solar Washington Board?
RB: Working on the SW Board was really exciting with so much growth and change in the industry in those days. I knew we were making a difference spreading the word on solar in Washington and shooting down the nay sayers, “it will never work in cloudy Seattle”. My favorite memories were the outreach events and solar 101 classes we put on. I have the best memories of my then young Daughter, Ruby trying to get people excited about “sun energy”. There was and continues to be so much misinformation and misunderstanding around solar PV, it was great to do my part spreading the truth!
SW: Do you have any advice for anyone considering solar right now, as a career or as a source of energy in Washington?
RB: Yes, GET INVOLVED and GET EDUCATED! Join and participate in Solar WA and the Solar Summit to build your network. Take classes at Shoreline College to get a deep understanding of the science behind solar PV and the industry created around it. Oh, and have fun, the PV industry is full of the coolest, most passionate people!