Carbondale solar firm fears for associate missing in Haiti
Ryan Summerlin January 15, 2010
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Friends and colleagues at Solar Energy International were anxiously awaiting word Thursday regarding a longtime SEI associate who was missing in Haiti after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.
Walt Ratterman, an alumnus, supporter and occasional instructor with the Carbondale-based renewable energy education institute, was in Haiti working on a series of renewable energy projects for rural hospitals with another nonprofit organization he co-founded, Sun Energy Power International.
“He has worked with SEI for several years, and has done projects with us all over the world,” SEI Director Johnny Weiss said. “He is a friend and mentor, and works in adverse conditions throughout the world. We’re really hopeful that some miracle is going to happen, and that he will be OK in all of this.”
Ratterman was featured in Adrian Belic’s 2006 award-winning film “Beyond the Call,” a documentary about Knightsbridge International (KBI), a humanitarian relief organization of which Ratterman was a part.
KBI is in the process of sending a rescue and relief team including medical personnel and “Live Find K9 Teams” to Haiti in the next couple of days.
“SEI is asking people to please donate to these efforts, as the costs associated with moving these skilled and very dedicated volunteers and their highly trained canines and equipment is costly,” SEI wrote in a news alert posted to its website (www.solarenergy.org). Donations can be made at KBI’s website (www.kbi.org).
Ratterman is a co-founder and CEO of Sun Energy Power International, based in Washougal, Wash., near Portland, Ore.
According to a biography posted at www.sunepi.org, Ratterman was senior vice president for projects with Foley Electric Inc., one of America’s largest electrical contractors, for 15 years. He subsequently founded TRC Electrical Construction Services, a commercial electrical contracting firm installing solar PV systems in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
In 2003, he was one of the first PV installers to pass the rigorous North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification exam. He earned a Master of Science degree in renewable energy from Murdoch University in Australia, and has extensive renewable energy design and installation experience internationally.
Ratterman has also been involved with rural solar PV installations in Nicaragua, the Galapagos Islands, southern Ecuador, Peru, Arunachal Pradesh in India, Burma, Thailand, and Rwanda, some in partnership with SEI.
Ratterman’s daughter, Briana, speaking by phone from Washougal, said Thursday evening they were still waiting to hear any information about her father’s fate from Haiti.
“We are posting regular updates on his Facebook page,” she said. A link to the Facebook page can be found on the SEI website.
“We have a lot of former military professionals working with Knightsbridge, but they’re having a hard time getting there at this point,” Briana Ratterman said. “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed with that right now.”