Faces of the new energy economy

At 19, Rae-Anne Wadey had a decision to make. Should she buy that diesel truck she wanted or use her savings to go back to school?

She decided to enroll in the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Alternative Energy program in Edmonton.

When she graduated she had trouble, as a woman, getting jobs. So she just showed up at job sites where she heard there was work. Her tenacity paid off.

Since then, Rae-Anne has worked on many of Alberta’s high-profile solar installations and is now teaching at NAIT to prepare the next generation of clean energy workers.

Once that solar module is up, it’s up. For 20, 25 years. It’s producing clean energy from the sun, and it makes me feel really good to be a part of that.

Rae-Anne Wadey

Brandon Sandmaier gave up a six-figure job in the oilsands industry to return to school. The goal? A career in clean energy.

It was a tough decision. With two kids and a third on the way, and with the renewable energy sector in its early days, there were risks.

By the time he was in his last year of training, he’d met his future business partner (fellow student Jeremy Frentz) and they’d begun competing successfully to deliver projects. It’s been one success after another since then.

Rae-Anne and Brandon are leaders in Alberta’s clean energy economy. They forged paths forward when the industry was in its infancy, and it’s paid off. They’ve achieved success and are in positions to help others find work in the renewable energy sector.

I think solar is a fantastic industry. I had to go through struggles at first, but I’m so glad I did and made the sacrifices that I had to be where I am today.

Brandon Sandmaier

Renewable energy is empowering communities across the country. Charged Up is the story of you — of all of us — on a mission for a cleaner, healthier, charged-up Canada.

David Dodge is an environmental journalist and photojournalist. He is the producer and host of GreenEnergyFutures.ca.

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