A display at the Snake River Brewery and Restaurant in Jackson records the solar electricity the business generates to (orange) and takes from (gray) the grid. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr/WyoFile)

I’ve been in the electrical industry for over 26 years and have owned and operated Premier Electric in Sheridan since 2006. Over the years I’ve adapted my business to my customers’ needs and demands. I’ve seen peaks and valleys in all aspects of our area’s electrical work, such as the coalbed methane fields, residential and commercial jobs, plus remodels, custom homes and thousands of man hours at Sheridan College. Through this experience, I’ve learned it’s important to be diversified in our part of the world.

Additionally, I’ve trained dozens of apprentices. Unfortunately, most of them have left the state. I currently employ and am training several apprentices including a recent high school graduate and a young woman investing in a new career. I was able to create these positions by diversifying and expanding my business into one of the fastest growing industries in the country: the design, sale and installation of solar power systems. These individuals are being trained in all aspects of electrical work, including solar. In less than four years, regardless of age or gender, they will have the ability to earn over $50,000 per year.

On a personal level, I strive to live my life with an attitude of cooperation rather than competition. I’ve discovered it’s best to cooperate not only with other trades and individuals on the job site, but also local and state inspectors, building departments and other contractors. It’s this attitude of cooperation that led me to get involved with, and serve on the board of, the Wyoming Solar Energy Association

We are a group of solar businesses organized to promote the utilization of renewable, solar energy in Wyoming. It’s my desire, through my service on this board, to extend this spirit of cooperation across all branches of the energy industry, utilities and government throughout the state. 

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Some people believe that only wealthy people have solar panels; this is simply is not true. Most of our customers are working folks who have run the numbers and decided to make their investment in solar panels rather than savings accounts, stocks, bonds, etc. Under the current net metering law, most residential investors will see their investment double in less than 20 years.

Recent economic forecasts predict that Wyoming’s revenue is expected to be down approximately $185 million over the next three years. Regardless of the reasons behind the decline, new good-paying jobs will help buffer the economy. We’re talking about a hundred or more jobs in solar spread across the state. This translates into money in people’s pockets which will then be spent in their communities.

Earlier this month, the Joint Corporations Committee considered changing or eliminating our net metering statute. This move would have cost jobs (very likely two in my company alone), stunted Wyoming’s growth of an industry that’s booming elsewhere in our nation and given our youth another reason to leave our state. 

Not to mention these proposals would have discouraged new businesses that wish to utilize renewables from moving here. These are businesses like the ones our community has been trying to lure here through incentives. 

Fortunately, these proposals did not pass. I want to thank the committee members who voted “no” on these proposals for listening to installers like me and solar owners who have made this investment.

I envision a world where oil, gas, coal, solar, wind companies, legislatures, contractors, utility companies, customers — all energy providers and consumers — work together. Wyoming is the Equality State. Equality and cooperation go hand in hand.

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  1. This decision wasn’t enough, I’m a licensed WYO Master Electrician, and I am aborting my plans to start a solar business there, and aborting my plans to move my family there because of the actions of these pistol waiving, bolero wearing redneck Wyo politicians. I was literally about to put about a quarter million dollars into Wyoming just to start. Good luck West Vigina 2.0!

  2. Thank you Mr. Mack for the informative article. In my view, renewables such as solar and wind power are a win/win for everybody and need to be promoted by all levels of government through subsidies and tax incentives. Thank you again.