Brent Ritzel - Solar Project Development
Born and raised in Carbondale, Illinois, Brent is a 1986 graduate of Carbondale Community High School, where he competed as a Westinghouse Science Talent Search national finalist, a two-time National History Day group performance finalist, and served as Thespian Troupe president and Academic Team co-captain. Brent also lettered in football, baseball and tennis, and graduated in his classes Top Ten.
Brent received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Northwestern University in 1990, where he had the opportunity to both design and construct experimental apparatus for high-energy particle physics experiments at Fermilab, and study under renowned Ludwig Wittgenstein student Dr. Stephen Toulmin.
Over the following 15 years in Chicago, Brent contributed heavily to both the local and national music scenes through the development of two independent cooperatively run record labels (Happy Tail Records and Crank Records), creating and booking the impactful 3-day First Independent Label Festival, and publishing / editing two internationally distributed periodicals: Tail Spins Magazine, focused on punk, indie & hardcore music and bizarre phenomenon; and Zine Guide, which for seven years served as the world’s top guide to the underground press.
During his time in Chicago, Brent also played bass and guitar in the pop-punk band Wag and the math rock / experimental punk band The Great Brain. Brent played more than 120 shows as bassist / vocalist and songwriter for wag., who released two 7″ singles and two full-length LPs during their 3 short years together. With The Great Brain, Brent played primarily guitar and some bass, handling vocals and songwriting as a team. The Great Brain released two 7″ singles and one full-length LP and played 32 gigs over their two year existence.
After having spent 20 years in Chicagoland, Brent experienced three packed years in Boulder, Colorado, where he owned and operated a trading card company, a comedy club / cigar bar, an employment agency and a mortgage brokership. During this time he also engaged in diversity of advanced entrepreneurial training, including CEO Space / IBI Network (Los Angeles, CA), Market to Millions / TV Shopping University (Tampa, FL) and The Great Game of Business (Springfield, MO). Brent also actively participated in the Texas Hold’Em league Real Poker Experience, where he was ranked #2 out of more than 5,000 card players in average finishing position over his 18 months and 145 games in the league.
Brent returned back home to Southern Illinois in 2008 to become an equity partner in renewable energy consortium Equitech International LLC, which consisted of 23-members, including three veterans of NASA’s jet propulsion lab. Brent designed and wrote a Comprehensive Renewable Energy relief proposal for the People of the Republic of Haiti, which he presented at the United Nations to leading staff from UNDP, UNDESA and UNEP.
Brent served three terms as president of the Fuller Dome non-profit, writing the organization’s winning $125K Save America’s Treasures Grant in support of preservation of the original Buckminster Fuller dome home in Carbondale. This grant allowed for completion of preservation of the exterior of the Fuller Dome Home.
Brent also earned a Master’s in Public Administration from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2015, completing his thesis on the cost of the extensive roadway damage nationwide related to fracking industrialization.
Brent joined StraightUp Solar later in 2015 and has worked tirelessly to bring awareness of renewable energy to Southern Illinois. Brent is a NABCEP Certified Technical Sales Professional and served one term as a Board Member for the Illinois Solar Energy Association.
Through his first five and a half years as a Senior Project Developer with StraightUp Solar, Brent has developed more than 200 solar projects in Southern Illinois totaling more than 4,700 kW of installed solar, including four large wastewater treatment plants in Southern Illinois: Carbondale (830 kW), Pinckneyville (424 kW), Marissa (230 kW) and DuQuoin (226 kW). This also includes more than 165 residential solar projects in Illinois (2,000+ kW), the Carbondale Civic Center (216 kW), and the Carbondale Public Safety Center (324 kW).
Brent has also been active in the Carbondale Spring movement, a comprehensive community action plan that is manifesting local food autonomy, care workers, renewable energy, worker-owned cooperatives and autonomous housing. Brent participated in creating the Solarize Southern Illinois Program, which saw an incredibly successful first year with more than 300 kW of solar installed among 22 residential and farm installations, in addition to taking a co-leading role in developing a Cooperative Academy curriculum regarding employee ownership.