When Mike Johnson was 11 years old, he played quarterback, and Jack Stenberg was his coach. Though memories have become fuzzy, Stenberg says young Johnson could always score. Now, as the president of Spear Point Energy a Colorado-based solar firm, Johnson has scored again for his former coach. He installed a ground-mounted solar array next to the Seneca County Law Enforcement Center in Romulus, N.Y., where Stenberg is Sheriff.
Stenberg knew he could count on Johnson to deliver the project on time and on budget.
“When Mike came home to visit his family, we talked about doing some sort of energy project together,” Stenberg says. “There wasn’t much money for this kind of project at the time. We said we’d revisit it.
“Six months later, Mike called me and said, ‘New York has some money available — want to talk projects again?’” he says. “It was perfect timing.”
The money, which came from the NY-Sun Competitive Photovoltaic Program (administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)), came with a catch: Once the money was awarded in March, the clock started on the project. If it wasn’t completed in eight months, the money would disappear.
Johnson, whose Aspen-based company Spear Point Energy develops and finances projects around the country, says the short time frame is not unusual and can be frustrating. But with his roots in the town (his family owns the local construction company that built the law enforcement’s center) and the sheriff’s full-throated support, the process went more smoothly than he could have imagined.
“We had two months to get the project approved,” Johnson says. “Having someone as trusted as Jack involved, along with my own ties to the community, pushed this project through on a fast track that wouldn’t happen just anywhere.”
The town supervisors approved the project after two meetings, and the combination of quarterback and coach mapped an ambitious game plan.
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