In our efforts to power rural communities forward with solar energy initiatives, SEI’s Solar Forward Program Manager hit the road again this week to meet with community groups throughout Colorado in order to truly understand and explore the needs of these communities, and how Solar Forward can help.

Read her recap below:

As we are well aware from our experience at our home base in Paonia, Colorado, dirt roads tend to lead to the best places. In the case of Crestone, Colorado, in the heart of the San Luis Valley, this was no different. As I drove through Baca into the town of Crestone, a colorful hub nestled between high desert and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, dry shrubbery turned into lush grass, trees and gardens as I approached the local diner where I would be meeting the driving force behind kickstarting a solar market in the region.

Smiles and excited conversation about resiliency ensued as nearly two hours flew by during our meeting about a potential partnership. I am always energized by the the genuine excitement and light in the eyes of partners as I explain the premise of our program: As an industry leader in solar energy training since 1991, SEI seeks to offer free technical advising to rural communities looking to foster a thriving solar market.

Resiliency is an overarching theme at nearly every meeting I attend. At SEI, we recognize that rural communities can benefit from a solar market the most. Instead of sending millions of dollars out of communities to pay utility bills, let’s keep that money in the economies of the communities who need it the most.

The group was most excited about our Solar in Schools program, taking our curriculum and teaching it to local high school classes as a trade training opportunity for the solar workforce. In communities which lack accessibility, bringing industry-recognized training as a pathway into the fast-growing renewable energy workforce is special opportunity for students.

The meeting ended how many do, a tour around town to the places where personality shines through the most: breweries painted with colorful murals depicting cherished local symbols and values, pointing out hidden oddities and art along allies and neighborhood nooks. I love seeing the personality of a community through the lens of the people who love it so much that they are striving to improve local opportunities through solar.

Climbing up a nearby mountain lined with centers of worship for spiritual gathering, I was full of gratitude and excitement. SEI is so thankful for what rural communities offer the Solar Forward Program: an avenue to empower the growth of solar and a relationship to share our mission of a world powered by renewable energy.

Are you interested in getting your community involved? Visit or email [email protected] for more information.