Eric Pasi: The Energy Futurist

Colin Michael Simmons

Colin Michael Simmons

City Pages' People Issue celebrates people making Minnesota a better place.

Eric Pasi’s mission is clear.

“I’m not going to stop until we’ve significantly affected the negative aspects of climate change, and solar power is the number-one source of electricity in the United States.”

Through his work as chief development officer with IPS Solar in Roseville, Pasi is staying true to his word. His tireless commitment to clean energy has helped IPS become one of the Twin Cities’ fastest growing companies. “Solar is here. It’s not something off in the future, somewhere. It’s happening now,” he says. 

Pasi grew up on St. Paul’s East Side. After graduating from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, he was inspired by Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, as well as the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

“I was moved by the science of climate change, as well as the stark nature of what we are headed towards. I wanted to do something that helped positively impact our planet.”

Pasi’s first project with IPS—then a fledgling company of five employees working out of a basement—was installing a two-panel hot water system in a residential home. Today, they are installing 20,000-panel solar fields in places like Chisago and Goodhue counties. “We’re still close enough to the city and close enough to where power is needed, but far enough away where you can find land for your projects.”

Some of IPS’s most exciting projects are with school districts. The company not only installs solar panels to provide energy, but also works with teachers on renewable energy curricula.

“School districts not only see a way to cut costs, but there’s also an opportunity to teach kids how to interpret the data that’s coming from these solar rays that helps them understand the relationship between energy and math and science,” Pasi says proudly. “We’ve helped to develop some basic curriculum for schools, and that has been one of the most rewarding things that I do. Not only in helping schools to lower costs, but also to help students learn the skills that they are going to need in the future.”

The dramatic change in our climate has caused many to fear for the fragile state of our planet. The Trump administration is only exacerbating the issue by rejecting the basic tenets of science. Despite this, Pasi remains optimistic about mankind’s ability to offset the damage we’ve already done to our environment.

“The doom-and-gloom, negative thoughts about climate change aren’t taking in the exponential pace at which renewables are being adopted,” he says. “While at the current trajectory, we are in a very difficult spot. But if you think about this technology being adopted on an exponential curve, I think we’re going to be all right.” 

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