World travels lead to new career in Solar


December 18, 2011

Norm Graham found himself looking for a new career path after his job in the biotech industry was downsized with the shifting economy. He knew that it wouldn't be easy to get back on his feet, but he was undaunted. He drew upon his memories of traveling the world as a U.S. Naval officer years ago, recalling how other countries embraced renewable energy systems. "Living in Japan, you see how everything they do is based on saving something, whether it's energy, water or other resources," said Norm Graham. "That's the life they live. Every other house in Japan had solar panels. I thought "why can't we have that here in America?"

It was not lost on Norm that the name of city he calls home, Temecula, CA, is thought to mean "place of the sun." Without hesitation, he enrolled in solar energy classes to gain new skills. Unfortunately, most solar installers can't get their first job without experience, and they can’t get experience without that first job.

To get that hands-on experience, a professor suggested Norm volunteer with GRID Alternatives. Within months of volunteering, Norm was offered a position at SunUp Energy where he now serves as a project manager. Through the partnership between Yingli Solar and GRID Alternatives, thousands of people like Norm have the opportunity to gain real-world experience in solar installation.

*Story update: As of 2012, Norm is employed with GRID Alternatives' Greater Los Angeles office as a Solar Installation Supervisor. We are very happy to have Norm on our team!