I recently attended Spectrum Code Seminars "Solar Energy Workshop" (Oct. 2009).
I'm an electrical contractor who has been interested in getting into the Solar PV field for the past few years. I've attended some trade shows and have talked to many people involved in alternative energy, but I have never had the opportunity to attend any "real" class in the subject.
Spectrum Code Seminars has been sending me fliers for years advertising their code seminars, but I had yet to attend any of their classes, based primarily on the fact that they charge much more than others... but when I saw they offered a solar energy workshop, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get more involved.
Boy, was this a mistake!
They advertise the seminar as follows:
"Solar Energy Photo voltaic Systems Workshop
Photo voltaic Renewable Energy Systems Wiring Methods Presented by Professionals in Residential Battery-Less Grid Tiered Systems Compliance with the National Electric Code, Rebate Incentives Net Metering Installations, Interconnected Agreements
Breakfast Buffet Included"
The location, for me, is a hour drive away... so I figured I'd skip breakfast at home, (since they DO have a buffet) and get there early.
When I arrived, I was 10 minutes early. There were allot of other people there at the time... but no food.
So, I waited in line to buy a 25 page "book" that I figured was required for the class. The book cost $15.
I sat down and waited... And waited... And waited.
It wasn't until 07:30 that the class got started.
I figured, hay... no problem... it's early on a Saturday morning... we'll get rolling soon.
The "instructor" was an enthusiastic old fellow, who comes up and tells everyone that there isn't a breakfast. (But he'll provide a lunch instead.)
Well, that great, but honestly now, how can you expect a classroom full of grown men to sit through hours and hours of class time without food in their bellies. If you had called us, (or at least posted it on-line" that there was a change to the agenda, it sure would have been nice. But, Okay.... no problem. I'll just be hungry.
The "instructor" was a business owner who honestly seemed pretty knowledgeable about things... but failed to mention any of his credentials. So, realistically, I didn;t know who the *** was standing up there in front of me.
Judging from his age and professionalism, I honestly thought I was going to leave there with a head full of new facts... but when he told us that we would start by watching a couple of videos, I kind of had my doubts.
I first thought the videos would be in-house productions or some sort of off the shelf educational programs.
WRONG! They were shows from the History channel and NOVA!
WTF? Are you kidding me? I already these TV show... three years ago!
If I wanted to watch TV, I would have stayed at home.
So... after wasting more than an hour there watching TV, I figured... Okay, here we go.
I listened to this guy talk about this and that. Stories of jobs that he did... while looking at a slides.... But nothing of any REAL value.
He really could have done more if he had a better program, but it seemed to me that he intentionally went out of his way to not teach us anything. (I can only asume because it would have taken away from his own business.)
I was really expecting for there to be handouts. Or at least, a reference to the $15 book I just bought. But there was none!
(The book turns out to be just a bunch of *** they threw together and it didn't relate at all to the class... or even what one could consider relative substance at all.)
So... I'm sitting there, waiting for this class to *** and to my surprise, the instructor tells us that he's now going to have his DAUGHTER come up and talk to us about rebates, etc.
I'm thinking, thank god!... anything to get this guy off the stage... so we can start friggen learning something!
I'm a perfectionist by trade... And I really have a hard time surrounding myself with folks who can't keep up... especially when I think they should know more than I do.
So, this girl comes up, really nice and all, but has no confidence at all. She habitually breaks every five minutes to check w/ her old man about little, incidental facts.
I was honestly expecting her, at least, to provide some handouts... you know, like tax documents or something... but again, wrong. Nothing.
She told us about her dad's business and jobs they were doing, no real useful stuff.
The only "real" thing she provided were links to check out on-line, that would help setting up solar PV systems. WOW. Links to on-line calculators!
THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!
So, after another hour of this... folks all around me were getting agitated. (I heard more than one snide remark under thier breath.)
At any rate, I'm a patient guy and figure... once we get through all the BS, we can finally get down to business. I didn't sign up for story time, I want to LEARN something! Christ, everybody around me had the NEC code books open ready to dive in, but that opportunity never arrived.
So, we're all there... hungry and pissed, waiting for the show to start, when the "instructor" tells us that he has someone from New England Tech to talk to us about their alternative energy programs.
Right away, I knew what this was going to be.
(I personally have no respect for New England Tech for reasons I'd prefer to not mention here, but let's say they have one and only one agenda... sales.)
Ding. Ding. Ding. Boy I called that one right.
For more than an hour and a half, we all had to listen to their sales pitch... and how NET was the "educational authority" in alternative energy systems.
NOT ONE FUCKEN THING that woman said was even remotely useful to the reason why we were there. Not one. (and I was listening.)
Guys to the left and right of me were mumbling all sorts of comments under their breath.
And you know what? They were absolutely right!
In fact... NET would have done allot better by simply passing out CD's or glossy brochures, offering there wares... rather than to sour everyone's morning with their rhetoric and tacky sales pitch.
(And after finding out how much they charge for their "fees", the only answer I have for them would be "*** NO!")
Well, funny thing was that lunch turns out was pretty good... but aside from that... nothing was ever once mentioned about code requirement... nothing about calculating wire sizes... OR locations of equipment.
Basically, $125. gets you a fairly good pasta and meatball buffet... but that it.
Good luck with going green fellas... but stay away from this pony show.
Review about: Solar Energy Workshop.