Solar Systems of Indiana (SSI) are the only Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) Certified Photovoltaic Site Assessor (PV) and NABCEP certified Solar PV installers residing in Indiana. SSI have been provided with training and have a demonstrated expertise in the renewable energy field.
Alex Jarvis, founder of Solar Systems of Indiana
Wes Biddle, IndianaMaster Electrician #6163
We are one of only a handful of NABCEP Solar PV certified installers in the state of Indiana, that means we have proven industry experience, professional training and a commitment to professionalism. We strive put up code compliant systems that are safe and long lasting!
Article by Mary McConnell
As the sun beats down on the newly installed two-kilowatt system, Alex Jarvis gestures excitedly with a tanned and calloused hand at the 10 solar modules decorating the roof above. Pale skin peeking from beneath his black-rimmed glasses contrasts with the faint wrinkles lining his face. Both are remnants of hours spent planning and laboring on the rooftops and in the back yards of Indiana.
“There’s nothing like the thrill of watching the meter run backwards for the first time,” Jarvis says as he and his newest client walk toward the electricity meter on the exterior of her modest, blue-sided home on South Washington Street.
Alex Jarvis gestures toward a newly installed solar energy system. Jarvis owns Solar Systems of Indiana and recently completed this installment on South Washington Street. Jarvis, a 44-year-old economist turned solar energy guru, owns Solar Systems of Indiana, one of a handful of renewable energy system providers in the state. His passion for renewable energy laid dormant for almost two decades before emerging in 2006 with the opening of his business.
“Alex is the renewable energy superstar,” Michael Beczkiewicz, networking coordinator of Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) says. “I consider him one of the greatest resources for renewable energy, especially photovoltaic.” Jarvis and two colleagues created SIREN in 2006 with the hope of educating the community on and developing interest in renewable technologies. Its recent Bloomington Solar Tour showed renewable energy growth in Monroe County that cannot be found in other Indiana counties, he says.
Beczkiewicz says much of that growth is due to Jarvis’s commitment to renewable energy education. “He shares his knowledge readily and with anyone,” he says. “Without him I don’t know where Bloomington would be. He has really made Bloomington much more educated.” Jarvis is also an instructor for the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and teaches PV classes throughout the midwest.
Jarvis’s life work did not always revolve around the sun. After graduating from IU in 1988 with an Economics degree, he migrated west to tour with a band before returning to Bloomington in 1990 to work as a materials manager. Then in 2005, when his employer moved its production outside of the United States and left Jarvis with two options: transfer east or stay and find another job.
He stayed. Rather than view his newfound unemployment as a setback, he considered it an opportunity to discover a different career path – one that made him happier.
The search was a short one, coming to an end as he rifled through desk drawers in his last days at Otis Elevator. Happening upon an article on solar panels, Jarvis transported back in time to the days when he dreamed of working in science.
“Ever since I was a little kid … I had an interest in science,” he remembers. “I had that … Radio Shack kit where you could make 99 different experiments with the one thing. I think that struck a chord that resonated with me and was something deep down I really enjoyed. … And cleaning out my desk, I was like, ‘I really want to do this.’”
With few renewable energy businesses in the state, jobs were hard to come by, but Jarvis refused to end his search. He traveled to Wisconsin for training with the Midwestern Renewable Energy Association (MREA), to Colorado to take classes with Solar Energy International, and then, eventually, to Florida. “I just had to go to where the technology was to get my hands on the materials and to get the knowledge,” he says. “With the support of my family, … I’ve been able to really go full-speed ahead ever since 2005.”
Jarvis’s family is not only supportive of his career but also of the renewable energy movement. At home, they utilize a two-panel solar system, a solar attic fan, and rain barrels for water collection, none of which required significant investments. “I don’t have a lot of financial resources,” he says. “When I’m able to get to that point, we will definitely install a nice system. But right now it’s all conservation work – timer on my hot water heater, adding insulation, putting loads on power strips and managing them, getting my windows sealed up, those things you can do quickly.”
His resources may be slim, but Jarvis’s reputation as a solar energy expert is immense. He recently obtained certification by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), not a small feat in the renewable energy world. “There are only a handful of people in the state of Indiana that are NABCEP certified,” Beczkiewicz says. “It’s a big accomplishment and says a lot about Alex’s experience.”
For Jarvis, though, his dedication to solar energy is not about reputation, but passion. “I have a deep-down passion for renewable energy because it just makes a lot of sense,” he says. “We have this huge resource that is very abundant and a technology available to harvest the energy. The sun comes up every day, it’s readily available, it's pollution free… For the next generation's, it’s time to transition into something a little different.”