Renewable Energy Solutions by Blue Sky Energy Systems

Environmental Profile: Gary Cole
by Dolores Watson – Earthday Coalition

So, when the lights went out on August 14th, you had thoughts about how nice it would be if you had some solar panels on your house.

You probably thought having at least enough self-generated energy to power your refrigerator and a light bulb or two would be an excellent idea.

But how would you achieve this modest goal?

Who could you call? in NE Ohio you can call Gary Cole, founder of eQuality Electrical Services (and Blue Sky Energy Services). Gary is a State Licensed Electrical Contactor and his company specializes in:

• Residential Electrical Work.
• Solar Photovoltaic Design & Installation
• Backup Power Systems
• Energy Efficiency Improvements

Electricity has fascinated Gary ever since at age 12, he stuck a paperclip in a wall socket and got a big surprise. Years later, while sailing, he was struck by the concept of free and invisible energy, as supplied by wind. But he didn’t actively follow up on this inspiration at the time because information available on practical application was not exactly enticing.

Luckily in 1997, Gary discovered that other NE Ohioans shared his passion for renewable energy when he heard about the work of SEED, Ohio (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development). SEED, Ohio is now named GEO (Green Energy Ohio).

Gary immediately jumped at the chance to assist SEED in several wind monitoring tower installations around the state, and began learning more about all forms of sustainable energy by reading, networking with SEED members and staffing tables at community outreach events, such as Earth Day Coalition’s EarthFest celebrations every spring. Gary credits the development of his communication skills and a redirecting of his life goals to his association with sustainable planet advocates he met in SEED / GEO since 1997.

In 2001 Gary installed a small photovoltaic system (PV) on his home to provide energy for his own use and to help educate the public about renewable energy by being one of the homes featured on the GEO NE Ohio Solar Homes Tour that year.

His home system has grown each year since then, and he now boasts 2kW capacity in PV and a 500-watt Windseeker turbine on his garage, and 240 watts of PV on his home (where the solar panels serve double duty as an awning over a south facing window).

After net metering became law in Ohio, Gary negotiated the confusing new possibility to have his system become the first in the City of Cleveland to be net metered and intertied to the local utility grid. It’s truly a sight, on a sunny day, to watch Gary’s electric meter spinning backwards, as his system pumps electricity into the power grid!

After working as an industrial electrician for a number of years, Gary struck out on his own to follow his passion for renewable energy, starting his own company in 2002. Offering basic residential electrical contracting as a base service to grow from, Gary started putting together a unique consulting/education program to share his enthusiasm for sustainability and energy efficiency in the community.

Gary was so successful in spreading his enthusiasm that he helped inspire Erika Weliczko, a trained chemical engineer, to leave her corporate job to do, what for her, would also be more meaningful work. After trekking off to Solar Energy International in CO. for PhotoVoltaic (PV) Installation training, Erika returned to Cleveland and professionally joined Gary’s company.

Just about that time Gary changed the name of his company from Wiring Services, Inc. to eQuality Electrical Services, in large part because Gary is very supportive of women being more actively invited into the green building trades. Gary feels that women who want to learn a trade may find working with sustainable minded coworkers more enjoyable than being a minority trying to enter the sometimes hostile world of traditional construction. Additionally, he feels it may be easier to train anyone who is already “green minded” in any of the construction trades than it would be to re-train long standing traditional construction workers into “green thinking”.

Together, Gary and Erika are evolving the scope of eQuality Electrical Services to encompass the services mentioned earlier plus include a focus on how the average homeowner can cost effectively incorporate green building principles into existing homes. Gary and Erika hope to educate homeowners on the importance of:

• assessing the entire building envelope
• indoor air quality and air infiltration
• the strategic use of shade, including shade provided by plants
• the use of wood from managed forests, and
• other green building principles.

Gary is also one of the founding members of the Green Contractors of Greater Cleveland, a professional association dedicated to meeting the growing demand for contractors with expertise and interest in Green Building principles and design. The Green Contractors seek to serve homeowners in search of green building materials and methods used in home upgrades and remodeling projects as well as to serve contractors in networking, further educating themselves and finding green jobs. Gary and Erika can make referrals to appropriate Green Contractors for any expertise the homeowner would need that is not a direct service that eQuality Electrical Services provides.

eQuality Electrical Services has donated a unique package of their services as an item to be auctioned at Earth Day Coalition’s 6th annual “Instrumental Evening for the Earth” Benefit on November 19, 2003. The package Gary and Erika will provide includes an evaluation of your home to suggest cost effective, energy efficient and green building improvements. Be sure to look for this exciting offering at the event.

What recommendations for a healthier local environment do Gary and Erika have for NE Ohio? Gary believes that we all must first consider ourselves as citizens of the planet when making decisions on how we live, then pay attention to our local affiliations. Additionally, Erika feels the easiest way to save the planet is to become really cheap; curbing rampant consumerism and practicing energy conservation at every possibility. The Greater Cleveland community is fortunate to have such dedicated citizens of the planet living and working in our midst.

From an article posted on the Entrepreneurs for Sustainability website:
Champions - Energy Champion Nominees - Gary Cole


PHONE: 216-544-9001

Blue Sky Energy Systems
PO Box 5498
Cleveland, Ohio 44101

Fax: 480-247-4996

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Gary Cole ~ Winner of
Energy Champion Award


Specialty Electrician: Gary Cole - The Early Days


You Might Like To Know That
Dan Conway said in 2002:
I recall at one of the early (renewable energy / green contractors) meetings at our place he asked where we could run an extension chord for his electric car. I knew then Gary Cole was committed to something larger than himself.


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