IREC leads the Solar Ready Vets Fellowship in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program. Offered at no cost, the fellowship matches solar industry employers with service members who are in transition from the military to the civilian workforce.

Rob Riley: Senior Associate, Silicon Ranch Corp.

Rob Riley, Silicon Ranch Corporation

Rob Riley was a Solar Ready Vets fellow at Silicon Ranch Corp. from January-June 2021, and then transitioned to a permanent role as a senior associate.

Rob studied geology as an undergraduate, where he deepened his commitment to advancing clean energy solutions to combat climate change. Following graduation, he served in the Army as a Platoon Leader in Kuwait, and later as a Company Commander at the U.S. Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia. At Fort Benning, he led a 270-person training organization and managed Army facilities worth $4 million.

Through the Solar Ready Vets Fellowship, Rob was connected to his role at Silicon Ranch, a developer based in Nashville, Tennessee with about 140 solar farms in 14 states. During the fellowship, Rob used software to identify potential solar development sites and engaged with dozens of landlords to negotiate options for sales. He supported the Operations and Maintenance team and found efficiencies to help the firm save $500,000.

The fellowship helped Rob make a smooth transition from the military to a civilian career in solar. This included getting accustomed to the intensely collaborative nature of the renewable energy industry. At Silicon Ranch, the decisions he makes can impact everyone from the asset managers to the construction team to the maintenance staff. “Everything is very interconnected, and we have to work together as a team to make sure these needs are being met,” Rob says.

After the six-month fellowship, Rob transitioned to a permanent position at Silicon Ranch as a Senior Associate of Project Development. He supports a range of development and pre-construction activities including site selection, due diligence, environmental permitting, site assessments, and preliminary budget development. Rob hopes to leverage his military experience and eventually transition into a leadership role in the solar industry, and he is concurrently pursuing an MBA at Georgia Tech.

With the solar industry growing by leaps and bounds, Rob looks forward to what lies ahead for his career. “It’s an exciting place to be,” he says. “I think we’ve got a lot of growth ahead of us both as a company and an industry.”