Passionate About Power

Tim Ball and Christy Holz shed light on the advances of solar energy.

by Nikki McCoy

Now more than ever, solar power is making a difference. The U.S. installed 7,260 mega-watts (MW) of solar in 2015 to reach 27.4 gigawatts of total installed capacity, enough to power 5.4 million American homes. By 2020, solar will quadruple in size to nearly 100 gigawatts of total capacity and more than $150 billion will have been pumped into the U.S. economy, creating more than 420,000 solar jobs. By the end of the decade, enough solar will have been installed to power 20 million American homes.

This growth is in no small part due to the efforts of two major players in solar, Tim Ball ’80 and Christy Holz ’78, who have been advocates, engineers, entrepreneurs, and investors in solar energy for more than 30 years.

Tim Ball and Christy Holz

Photo by Ian Vorster.

The couple, who met at Evergreen, have nurtured more than a half dozen start-up solar companies and worn many hats within each organization. Currently, Ball and Holz serve as board members, advisors, or investors in solar companies including Sunrun and REC Solar, and Ball is a partner in Farwest Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on energy innovation. These companies collectively employ some 2,000 employees, which will deploy more than 350 MW of new residential and commercial solar installations this year.

In a recent interview, Ball and Holz shared their visions, insights, and Evergreen memories, and offered ways to combat climate change through smart energy use.

Ball and Holz celebrate Sunrun’s (RUN) debut on the NASDAQ. Photo courtesy of Tim Ball.

Today, solar is rapidly becoming the lowest-cost form of electrical power generation on the planet, lower in cost than new coal, nuclear, and even natural gas generating facilities.

Tim Ball and Christy Holz

This 186 kW, ground-mounted solar electric system was developed by REC Solar for the Dole Plantation located in Wahiawa, Hawai’i. The solar array is adjacent to Dole’s popular visitor center and Pineapple Express Railroad. Photo courtesy of Tim Ball and Christy Holz.