Rocky Mountain Region Trains with Oglala Lakota College
By Jeff Tobe Solar Energy International
Students and instructors install solar on construction trailer
Solar Energy International (SEI), in conjunction with Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) and Utah Solar Energy Association, teamed up with the Oglala Lakota College’s construction program for three days of training and installation of a mobile, off-grid solar system. Seventeen students and three of the college’s instructors participated in the course.
At the end of the training, the students had installed a fully functional solar powered mobile power system on their construction trailer. The system will be used to provide power at community events, take solar education to the tribal schools, and provide power for the construction class during their work building houses on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
The goal of working with the Oglala Lakota College is to bring renewable energy education and awareness to the members living on the reservation. The students receive training in how renewable solar systems work and how to install them in a way that will provide clean power for many years. Building this portable power system as a learning lab for the local college and community was an idea that came about during the first training project back in October 2012. Oglala Lakota College instructor, Lyle Wilson, and several students thought demonstrating an off-grid system would be a great next step in developing a solar electric program for their school and community.
Funding for the project was provided through SEI’s participation as a Regional Training Provider (RTP) in the Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network. This Network is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Instructor Training Network was created through the SunShot Initiative to improve the quality and accessibility of solar installation training and expand the nation’s trained solar workforce. DOE funds a National Administrator and nine Regional Training Providers to train instructors, develop curricula, and standardize local training efforts. Oglala Lakota College instructor Lyle Wilson, and SEI instructor Brad Burkhartzmeyer, teamed up to carry out the training and oversee the installation on the trailer. Lenny Whitehorse, part the instructor team, and Art, the electrical instructor, provided invaluable help and insight during the training. Special thanks go to Andy Thompson, director of vocational education at OLC, for his welcoming attitude and providing the lunches.
The system included and Outback Power FP1 preconfigured system (FX inverter/charger with FM80 charge controller) with two REC 250 watt modules and four sealed Trojan batteries for a fully operational mobile power system.