Black Rock Solar got started in the summer of 2007 when a group of volunteers led by Matt Mynttinen and Bill Brooks installed a 30 kilowatt array on the playa surface in Black Rock City during the annual Burning Man event, themed that year as The Green Man. Later that fall, the team moved the array and installed it in the tiny desert town of Gerlach, Nevada, donating the solar project to the town’s school system. The original array was expanded to 90 kW, providing the school with 30% of its current power needs and saving educators more than $15,000 per year.
Black Rock Solar starts by focusing on the social- rather than financial- bottom line. We look at who needs help the most and how we can best help them. We find ways to save money on installations and provide our services at the lowest cost possible, relying partly on donations and fundraising efforts. We use highly trained, licensed photovoltaic installers willing to work for a non-profit organization, and we have one of the most highly qualified team of managers and consultants working to ensure each project is completed to the highest standards in the industry.
Just to be clear, we’re not interested in competing with anyone who does this for a living, and that’s why we only take on projects that aren’t viable otherwise. That way, we can increase the amount of solar power on the ground while still growing the market for high-paying “green collar” jobs.
We use the actual installations to teach community members about the benefits of renewable energy, how solar systems work, and how they can help address climate change. Black Rock Solar has an ever expanding educational program and offers job training, professional meetings, and informational workshops.
Building solar power creates energy independence, teaches valuable skills and important lessons about pressing issues to people who might not have another opportunity to do so, and directly affects climate change. More importantly, money saved on electricity bills stays in the community, benefitting people who need it most. On behalf of everybody at Black Rock Solar, we’re happy to be a part of it.
Black Rock Solar takes its name from the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, a beautiful desolate place encompassing a dry ancient lake bed and surrounding basin that extends nearly 100 miles northeast from the towns of Gerlach and Empire. The flat expanse of playa is a remnant of the prehistoric Lake Lahontan, which existed up to 500 feet deep between 18,000 and 7,000 BC during the last ice age, and is now home to 50,000 people for one week every summer during the annual Burning Man event.