Employee Spotlight: Professional Athletes at SolarCity, Part Two

By Liz Mead

March 24, 2015

Last year SolarCity added 4,000 new hires to our team, bringing our current workforce to over 9,500 employees nationwide. Those are 9,500 bright, determined individuals, from a diverse array of backgrounds. We’ve been celebrating our team and all their various talents by highlighting some of the SolarCity employees who have also held careers as professional athletes. Meet the next all-star in our series:


Mark Washington is a former linebacker. He played college football at Arizona State, and played in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, and Miami Dolphins. 

Role at SolarCity: Channel Account Manager

Hometown: I’ve lived all over! During my football career I lived in California, Colorado and Arizona. When I was young my parents saved up so our family could spend time living abroad and develop a global perspective. We lived in Senegal, Madrid, Málaga, Paris and Nice.

SolarCity Office: Thousand Palms, California

Started working with us: January 2015


Why did you join SolarCity?

This company lines up with the things that are important to me. I’ve always had a mind geared towards sustainability. Before this job I was on a weekly Bay Area television show about going green called Billions Rising.


What’s your favorite aspect of your job?

The part of this job that excites me the most is something I’m already familiar with: motivating. It’s a skill that comes naturally to me because of my time in sports. As a linebacker I led the defense; I’ve always had to be the leader, and set the example for the rest of my teammates. My job now is to train and motivate a team of salespeople, and that’s something I really enjoy doing.


Office culture in a few words:

Energetic, passionate and progressive.


How did you get involved in football?

My dad was a great athlete, and also a football player. I never had the opportunity to play in any of the youth leagues but football was something I’d always had an interest in. When we returned from living overseas, I told my dad, “I know you played ball and had all these amazing experiences…I’m tired of hearing about it, I want to experience it on my own!” He made a deal with me: if I took my SAT I could attend public school and play sports. So I took the SAT when I was 14 years old, enrolled at Long Beach Poly and started playing football my junior year. Things took off after that.


What’s been the most triumphant moment of your athletic career?

Winning the state championship in high school, and making it to the NFL. I didn’t have things easy growing up, so being able to overcome the obstacles in front of me and make it to that level was a huge accomplishment.


Was there a particularly tough challenge you had to overcome?

The number one challenge in football is fighting through adversity with injuries- knowing how to manage pain, recovery and rehabilitation, while still striving to surpass the competition and be the best player possible. In professional football your performance is constantly being evaluated, so keeping yourself fine-tuned like a racecar is important.


Do any of the skills you’ve acquired being a professional athlete help you on the job?

Persistence and motivation - those are skills I really honed during my football career. Mike Singletary, my coach while I played with the 49ers, taught me how to persevere when my mind was telling my body that it couldn’t go any further. Learning how to overcome that, how to dig deep and find that extra bit of motivation to keep going, is what will separate you from everyone else.


Any advice for those looking to succeed in their career, be it professional football or otherwise?

Never get comfortable- whether you’re currently satisfied with where you are in life or not. You can always better yourself.


We’re looking for trailblazers from every walk of life to join our fast-growing team. Check out the current opportunities on our career page.

Solar eclipse to test European grid

By Matt Collister

March 19, 2015


Image credit: Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be via CC / cropped from original

Tomorrow the moon will cross into the line of sight between Europe and the sun. While people from Oslo to Istanbul make their way to work by car, bus or bicycle, a total solar eclipse will darken their skies for one hour.

Total solar eclipses are rare: One hasn’t passed over Europe since 1999. Once considered bad omens, eclipses have since come to be considered curiosities as we’ve begun to understand the mechanics of planetary and lunar orbits Thank you, Johannes Kepler.


A test for the European grid

For the first time, a total eclipse will pass over an area that harnesses the sun for a significant amount of its electricity supply. Solar accounts for about 3 percent of all electricity generation in continental Europe.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) calls the eclipse “an unprecedented test for Europe's electricity system." It will cause a sudden, mid-morning drop—and just as sudden of a rise—of 35,000 megawatts of solar power from the grid.

In a recent release, ENTSO-E assures Europeans that control rooms will be in close contact with one another throughout the morning and will be ready to respond quickly if needed.


A combination of response tactics

Barry Fischer and Ben Harack provide a deeper analysis of Transmission Systems Operators’ (TSOs) likely response on Opower’s “Outlier” blog - focusing on Germany, where solar accounts for approximately 6.9 percent of that country’s net electricity consumption.

What’s likely? Fischer and Harack expect a combination of tactics. They include releasing energy stored in hydroelectric dams, turning on quick-start natural gas plants and importing electricity from other countries. All of this should help balance out the dip in solar power—and help ensure the likelihood of continuous service.


Will consumers even notice?

So, just what will happen on Friday morning when your average European turns on a light or powers up a factory? 

Fischer and Harack think TSOs may ask consumers to minimize electrical use during the eclipse as a precaution. Opower, coincidentally, provides utilities and their customers with systems that help lower demand during peak times.

According to a recent piece in Mother Jones, however, most experts predict European consumers will experience no noticeable effect. This is thanks, largely, to the very foresight and months of planning by the utility companies. And that seems to bode well for consumers served by the growing solar power industry in the U.S., where utilities are likely paying attention to the European approach.

In case you’re wondering, the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be on the afternoon of August 21, 2017. It’ll cut a diagonal path across the lower 48 states, starting in Oregon and heading southeast toward the Carolinas and Georgia. Depending on your location, anywhere from 40 to 100 percent of the sun will be covered. It’ll be the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental U.S. since 1979.

Here’s how you can have dependable, clean power when the grid is down [Infographic]

By SolarCity

March 16, 2015

With the Northeastern United States breaking snowfall and low temperature records this winter, while the West Coast drags into its fourth year of historic drought, there’s no denying that extreme weather-related events are on the rise.  The first decade of the 21st century saw 3,496 natural disasters worldwide, nearly a fivefold increase over the 1970s. In circumstances like these, the ability to reliably maintain power is critical, allowing for faster response times, less property damage and, above all, fewer lives lost. Today we unveiled GridLogic, a microgrid service ensuring any community in the world vulnerable to power outages and high energy costs—including remote or island communities, hospitals and military bases—can have dependable, clean power when the grid is down:


Learn more about GridLogic and request a consultation here.

A 4GWh Day

By SolarCity

March 13, 2015

SolarCity customers generated 4GWh of solar electricity in one day earlier this week, scarcely a year after they hit 3GWh. The graph below tracks our collective progress and telegraphs this summer’s spike - imagine this curve when we hit our goal of one million customers. The best part? Our customers didn’t have to burn anything, use a drop of water, or emit an ounce of carbon dioxide to produce this power. This is what the future looks like.




Does satellite TV’s history predict residential solar’s future?

By SolarCity

March 11, 2015


As a culture, we adopt new technologies at an ever-faster pace. It’s a fact proven by history. So, could it be just a short time before solar goes mainstream? Could it be just a few years before you see solar panels on a house—anywhere—and don’t give them a second thought?

Consider this: Thomson-Reuters predicts solar will be the planet’s primary energy source by 2025, and futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts solar could provide all the world’s energy by 2030.

That might seem like a stretch, especially outside of a solar early-adopter state like California. Nationally, about 600,000 homes and businesses have gone solar. But that’s just a small fraction of American rooftops. 

The number is rising, though, and rising fast. Solar is the fastest-growing form of renewable energy in the U.S. The growth is driven partly by the plummeting cost to produce solar energy. It’s also driven by new options that let homeowners and businesses sidestep the full, up-front cost of equipment, installation and maintenance.


A useful comparison

Let’s compare the growth of solar to the growth of another consumer technology—satellite TV.

Before the 1990s, satellite TV providers like DIRECTV® didn’t even exist. The idea of receiving TV signals from space was unknown or “exotic” to most people. Limited satellite programming was indeed available. But the level of know-how and cost of equipment needed to receive it was beyond the average consumer’s means.

Yet, within just a few years of companies like DIRECTV starting to offer service, satellite went mainstream. Today, nearly one in three pay TV subscribers has a satellite service. DIRECTV is the largest provider—its dishes adorn millions of rooftops across the country. Those homeowners enjoy an affordable alternative to other pay TV options.

Satellite caught on because providers cracked the code for the consumer experience. Companies like DIRECTV boiled down all the know-how to a simple question: Does your home have a clear view of the southern sky? And, they took advantage of new technologies to offer more programming choices at a level people could afford.


We’ve helped crack the code for solar

That is what’s happening with solar right now. We’re where satellite TV was in the 1990s. It’s perhaps a rough comparison, but indeed a useful one. Consumers now have a cost-saving, easy-to-use, green alternative to the traditional utility company. The code is cracked, and the trend is beginning to take hold.

In a fitting twist, potential solar customers will soon benefit from DIRECTV’s expertise. We’ve partnered with the company to help identify homeowners who might benefit from going solar. DIRECTV installers will advise their customers if the roof is a good candidate for panels. If there’s interest, the installer will refer the customer to SolarCity.

In celebration of this partnership, between now and March 18th SolarCity will offer a $400 payment to qualified customers who sign up to go solar through our DIRECTV web page, via social media, or by phone.

Here’s one last thing to ponder (and a conversation starter for your next party). It took 46 years for residential electricity—introduced in 1873—to be adopted by a quarter of the U.S. population. It took 26 years for television—introduced in 1926—to achieve the same milestone. It took the World Wide Web—introduced in 1991—just seven years.*

It’s just a matter of time before solar is mainstream. In a few years, you won’t give those panels a second thought.


* Source: http://pewrsr.ch/1ur6mr1

About This Blog

SolarCity's mission is to accelerate the mass adoption of clean energy. Follow solar’s progress here.

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