Although North Dakota ranks last among the states for installed solar power systems, one local man believes, nonetheless, the state can reduce its dependence on fossil fuel energy and begin to “harvest the sun.”

Charlie Ricketts, CEO of Dakota Solar Energy, is originally from Valley City. However, in 2014 he moved away, working for electric car company Tesla and its subsidiary, solar energy services company, Solar City.

Nine months ago, he made his way back to North Dakota and started his own solar energy company, Dakota Solar Energy. 

Ricketts says he’s driven to help people understand solar energy and the need for it in North Dakota.

He admits that has been a slow, arduous process.

His biggest challenges? 

Eliminating preconceived notions about how solar energy may or may not be the best option for our state. 

How do you eliminate preconceived notions?

“Show the numbers… numbers don’t lie,” Ricketts says. “One beautiful thing about solar energy is that we know the data — we can take any point on Earth and with some really simple design techniques, we’ll know exactly how much sun we’ll receive [at that location] for a very long time. And that’s how we measure energy.”

And it’s those numbers, Ricketts says, that make North Dakota a great market for solar.

“North Dakota is ranked high in annual sunlight hours and, ultimately, it is the only reliable, renewable, free power we have,” he says. “The sun provides life. As long as someone believes that the sun will, in fact, come out and that they will need energy. I believe solar is a no-brainer.” 

Ricketts sees parallels between North Dakota’s growth as an oil producer and the potential the state has as a solar energy producer.

“We’re currently sitting dead last in solar production and I wanna change that. I think we can be number one in solar production,” he emphasizes. “Harvesting the sun is a revenue operator for anyone who has land. So,  we can look at this on a mass scale, reduce our dependence on fossil fuel energy and, in return, have a good, secure, clean future, and we can provide our farmers with a secure opportunity to look at ‘crops’ other than soybeans and corn that they can use their land for.” 

Charlie Ricketts says he’s been asked the same questions over and over and wants to dispel some of the most common myths related to solar energy. Questions such as How do solar panels work in cold weather? How do they hold up in hail? Don’t you need batteries with solar power? Doesn’t it take a long time to recoup your “ investment “

“I can help educate folks about solar energy,” Charlie adds.  “And let them know that panels are made to withstand whatever mother nature can throw our way. And that solar panels actually perform better in colder climates than in southern states. I have had the privilege of working alongside some amazing humans and whenever I am asked what makes up the day and life of a solar energy advisor, it can usually be summed up with getting to drive around all day, meeting new and interesting people, eliminating a bunch of preconceived notions and leaving the planet a better place. Everybody wins.” 

What are some of the myths and misconceptions about solar energy? Click here…