Project Manager, Shonto Economic Development Corporation
Near Kayenta, AZ
Brett Isaac, Project Manager for Shonto Economic Development Corporation, oversaw the Westies’ volunteer project installing a six-panel solar array at a home site on the Navajo reservation Sunday. A Navajo himself who is also Hopi, Brett emphasizes the importance of designing quality systems, running a viable business, and providing solar panels for a reasonable cost. Brett graduated from Arizona State University in 2008 after studying federal-Indian relations. The solar business, which is just one component of Shonto Economic Development Corporation, started out installing small systems, but has since moved into the commercial solar market and has plans to enter the utility-scale solar market. Brett is also currently developing a large, portable solar array that would be hired out to power off-the-grid concerts and wildfire command centers, for example. Brett says that he feels fulfilled by his work installing solar systems when he sees how his customers “light up” upon realizing the possibilities that have been opened up to them. Solar allows them to invest in their homes beyond the extent to which they could without electricity, adding refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers. When possible, Brett makes use of volunteer groups to install solar systems, which helps keep costs low for his customers. For the Westies, installing the solar system was a great learning opportunity as well as a way to contribute to the Navajo community that we had been immersed in for the last several days; Brett is a skilled teacher as well as solar engineer, knowing when to guide and when to step back and let the volunteers do the work and learning themselves.
By Jenni Doering