Marine Corps Vet takes on energy Independence

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June 01, 2012

For Johannes Copeland, a former Marine Corps Logistics Officer and GRID Alternatives veteran who started his own installation company, solar power is about energy independence more than anything else. In two tours in Iraq, he says he saw first-hand the impact of our dependence on fossil fuels.

“The fewer marines and soldiers we have to send over there to secure our energy, the better,” he said in a recent interview. “I wanted to make an impact on this problem that is so very apparent in that part of the world.”

After leaving the military, Johannes moved to the Bay Area for an Americorps position with Habitat for Humanity’s green building program. For a year Johannes led teams of volunteers building homes for those in need, many with solar electric systems installed by GRID Alternatives. At that time, GRID was still a small start-up nonprofit with about 10 employees state-wide, but it was growing, and Johannes soon found himself with a job. “It was a very fun and exciting time,” he said. “I learned most of what I know about solar from GRID.”

After several years learning the ins-and-outs of solar installation, Johannes was ready to take his passion for solar - and energy independence - further. Together with Ash Wagner, a volunteer he met on one of his earliest GRID Alternatives projects in Fresno, they founded ProVoltz in July of 2010. Since then Johannes has worked to create a thriving, professional solar installation company. In January 2012, Provoltz achieved SunPower’s elite dealer status, the top tier in the manufacturer’s three-tiered dealer structure.

“They are just a great, professional company to work with,” he said of SunPower, which earlier this year became an official panel provider and philanthropic partner of GRID. “I am proud to offer their efficient panels to our customers,” said Johannes.

Johannes is also getting back to his roots serving low-income communities. Last year, ProVoltz became a subcontractor for GRID Alternatives, and is now not only helping families in need, but also providing paid work opportunities for job trainees from GRID’s workforce development partners.

Whether the clients are GRID’s or his own, Johannes is just happy to be helping more people go solar. “Having solar really distributes power; not only literally, but also figuratively in terms of the control you have over your own life and energy choices.”