New Side Project and More After-Work Fun!

Summer is quickly flying by and in addition to my customer touchpoint project, I have been working on a new side project from the Distributed Energy Resources department in Oregon on Community Solar (OCS)! DERs is the concept of taking our current centralized energy generation system (central power plant to power lines to you) and distributing/decentralizing it so energy can be generated from many locations.

For example, when you plug your appliance into the wall, the electricity can come from a power plant (that often uses fossil fuels) or from distributed energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines, storage, and others. DERs are generally “greener” and better for the environment than centralized sources of energy, making this field a growing focus for Energy Solutions (ES). 

One type of DERs is community solar (CS). CS is essentially a solar power plant that can be subscribed to by local community members who directly receive the benefits of solar energy. For instance, a church or library could offer their roof to the CS program which would choose a contractor to install solar on their roof. The contractor would then rent out portions of the array to community members who are known as subscribers, and subscribers get cheaper utility bills depending on the amount of energy their portion of the array generates. This type of solar program is beneficial because many community members (in particular low income) cannot afford the upfront cost required to purchase their own solar array (~$10,000-$20,000). In addition, a community member’s roof may not be structurally sound enough to install their own solar array. Therefore, CS provides renewables for many people who lack access by making the barrier of entry (aka upfront cost) low!

Projects like this in the DERs department are especially cool because they are things I learn about in my classes and experience through academic research. It’s really interesting to see renewables in the private sector and to compare the processes and methods for completing these projects to my experiences in school. Though I love the work I am doing in the EE department this summer, I think experiencing more of the DERs side of ES would be a real treat. 

After work, sometimes I play basketball with people here at ES at a local park in Oakland Chinatown. I have been playing basketball for a long time and it’s one of my favorite ways to get the blood pumping and to build camaraderie with people. In terms of exercise, basketball seriously works your body by putting you through different ranges of motion when dribbling, faking, and spinning around the court. Basketball also requires lots of jumping and running, which is a lot of cardio. It’s a great way to get some exercise after work, not to mention super fun and great for team bonding. 

Walkin back from Oakland Chinatown!

One of my favorite things these past few weeks was going to karaoke with my coworkers! For some reason, a bunch of people here are great singers including my supervisor and my cubemates. One of my coworkers is even a professional actor/singer who auditioned for Hamilton! (yes, the amazing musical everyone raves about). These moments really give me a glimpse of work-life in a city, and the opportunity to get to know my coworkers on a more personal and social level. Outside of work, I get to learn about their hobbies, passions, and their stories about how they got to be where they are now. At ES, I am truly grateful to be surrounded by so many inspiring individuals who are not only amazing professionals, but also incredibly interesting, friendly, kind, and passionate people.