Taylor Iverson

Taylor Iverson | Solar Construction Worker | Solar Connection 

LAKE CITY, MN -- Taylor Iverson has a quiet, calm demeanor. His steady hand and reflective voice lend experience to this young solar construction manager.

The day we meet Taylor is a few days after a huge snowstorm hit a large part of southern Minnesota. He has to wipe his boots dry thoroughly before climbing the steps of his ladder to show us the large solar array mounted atop the dairy barn we’re visiting at Evergreen Knoll Farm. We express regret, for making him do this multiple times over the course of our conversation. “Don’t worry, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve done this, I’d be rich,” he tells us.

Taylor grew up in the small town of Stewartville, just south of Rochester. One of four boys, he says he spent much of his childhood outside. His father imparted an important lesson he still holds dear, “My dad always taught us that you need to leave the environment better than what you came to. So we do that in the outdoors, and now I get to do that in my career too,” he tells us.

It’s a motto loved by environmentalists, outdoor adventurers, hunters and anglers alike. Taylor falls into many of those categories. His time spent outside has developed into a passion. His favorite activity when he’s not working? Bow hunting whitetail deer in the fall, -- he tells us it’s a family tradition.

That love of the outdoors, coupled with construction experience he gained while still in high school – became the perfect pairing for a career installing solar arrays for Solar Connection in Rochester, Minnesota. His construction experience was exactly what the owner of Solar Connection, Curt Shellum, was looking for.

Shellum started the company back in 2010, making Solar Connection the oldest and most experienced solar installer in Southeastern Minnesota. Since then, the company has installed 1,721,1000 watts of solar. Although the company focuses primarily on residential solar, it has also installed arrays on a wide number of projects – from Whitewater State Park, to large dairy farms, like Evergreen Knoll, to a pizza farm just south of Rochester.

Taylor began working as a solar installer for the company in 2013. Since then he’s risen steadily up the ladder, recently becoming a solar construction manager. His job is to manage the installation – from scheduling the workers and connecting with customers, to dropping off parts and watching the timetable to stay on track.

He tells us one of the coolest parts of his job is to see that look of excitement on his customers’ faces – no matter how big or small the installation. It’s those little moments of seeing customers find joy in producing their own electricity – that make him feel pride in his work.

“I get customers of all kinds, but a lot of them are very excited when we get to turn them (solar arrays) on. We have a lot of people who get excited about small systems, you know small residential systems they are super excited about it, which is kind of eye opening to me. I turn it on two to three times a week, but it really touches home when you turn on a residential system and both spouses are very excited about it,” he tells us.

Taylor is one of the more than 57,000 Minnesotans employed in the clean energy industry. And, he’s one of the more than 4,000 people working in Minnesota’s quickly expanding solar market. According to the Solar Foundations 2017 Solar Jobs Census report, the solar industry grew by 48 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Taylor says he sees a lot of room for continued growth in Minnesota’s solar market. “I’d like to see the price of everything come down even farther than it has already, so that everybody with an ideal roof or ideal yard for a solar array can get it,” he says.

Taylor ends our conversation by telling us, “I always liked the fact that at the end of the day I get to stand back and look at what I’ve done.”

And for someone like Taylor, who finds joy being outdoors, and accomplishment from working with his hands to save his customers money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- the solar industry might be just the right fit as well.