Solar Energy International wants to acknowledge and congratulate the Access Solar team for taking first place in the business model pitch competition, and second place in the business plan presentation competition, that represented the culmination of their work in Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise (GSSE) MBA program. The team is made up of four incredibly talented and driven women: Addison Arnold, Luciana Figliolo, Melody Redburn, and Aurora Sepp-Peterson. SEI was fortunate to be chosen by the team in April to act as an advisor in their development of a business model that aims to connect community solar project developers to customers.

As part of the research and development phase, SEI gave the GSSE team a scholarship to take the online PV101 class, and SEI hosted the students when they visited the Paonia campus in July for a week of in-person collaboration. SEI AmeriCorps VISTA Shane Sobotka led the team during the week of research, brainstorming, and meetings. The team visited the CSU Agricultural Research Station in Hotchkiss to discuss a potential utility-scale solar project with the station’s directors, met with board members and executives of Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) and other local utilities at DMEA’s Annual Meeting, toured a local development using the latest in sustainable building technology (including a 40kW community solar carport array), discussed used and recycled solar module markets with an SEI engineering partner, and learned about the future of community energy markets and blockchain with Nest Labs/Google and Drift Marketplace. The team even joined Paonia’s local ultimate frisbee group for a pickup game during their visit.

The team’s final business model focused on identifying, qualifying, and bringing together individuals that want access to solar power but are locked out of the current market because they don’t own their roofs. Access Solar bundles these customers as counterparties to power purchase agreements with solar project developers in compatible energy markets. All four women plan to continue working in the solar industry, and Solar Energy International is grateful for such educated allies in our mission to create a world powered by renewable energy, and it seems that the CSU judges agree!