Frequently Asked Questions

1. What courses do I have to take to become an Installer?
2. What courses do I have to take to become a Site Assessor?
3. What's the difference between a Certificate and Certification?
4. Where can I get the textbook that is recommended or required for my course?
5. Can anyone take a course? Are there prerequisites? 
6. Is an online course the same as a face-to-face course? Which courses are available online?
7. Do I have to attend the live webinars in an online course?
8. I'm an instructor. Can I teach MREA courses at my institution?
9. Do MREA Members get discounts on courses?
10. Where in the world is Custer, WI?
11. What if I need to cancel a course registration?
12. What if I don't finish a course?
13. Can I pay for a course with a check?
14. I just signed up for a course. What happens next?

What courses do I have to take to become an Installer?

1. The MREA does not certify installers, but rather provides training based on nationally recognized standards for certification. Our courses, when taken in the recommended progression, satisfy the knowledge and skill sets necessary for professional competency in the renewable energy industry.

The MREA is a NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam Provider and Continuing Education Provider. 

For more information about NABCEP Certification, inlcuding PV Installation Professional, PV Technical Sales, Solar Heating Installer, and the Entry Level Program, visit our NABCEP page and the NABCEP website

What courses do I have to take to become a Site Assessor?

2. The MREA offers Site Assessor Certificates in PV, Solar Thermal, and Small Wind. For each technology, there is an intro (101) course, followed by a site assessment (201) course. When you successfully complete both courses, you are automatically enrolled into our Site Assessment Certificate Program, where you have access to an online Dropbox and Resources Forum. 

You have one year after completing the 201 course to complete two practice site assessment reports, have them approved by an assigned technology mentor, and pass an exam.

For more information, please visit our Site Assessment Certificate Program page.

What's the difference between a Certificate and Certification?

3. The MREA offers Certificates, not Certifcations. A Certificate is an entry-level credential that can be used as professional development towards eventual Certification.

The MREA Site Assessment Certificate shows that you successfully completed two courses, had two practice site assessment reports approved by a technology mentor, and passed an exam. The MREA PV Design and Sales Certificate proves that you passed four courses, had a practice design and sales proposal approved by a technology mentor, and passed an exam.

NABCEP offers Certification for renewable energy installers and professionals. Certifications include:

  • PV Entry Level Program
  • PV Installation Professional
  • PV Technical Sales
  • Solar Heating Installer

For more information about credentials related to our courses, visit our Professional Credentialing page. For more information about the Site Assessment Certificate, see our Site Assessment Certificate Program page. More NABCEP details are on our NABCEP page.

Where can I get the textbook that is recommended or required for my course?

4. If there is a recommended or required textbook for your course, we encourage you to purchase it through the MREA Marketplace. MREA members receive a 10% discount on all Marketplace merchandise, as well as $20 off each MREA course. 

Books can also be purchased through Amazon and similar websites. If you choose to go this route, please consider supporting the MREA by using smile.amazon.com and selecting the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

Can anyone take a course? Are there prerequisites?

5. Our classes are open to the general public. Introductory courses (100-level) are designed to provide you with the basic knowledge surrounding the renewable energy topic of your choice. 

200-level courses and higher have the 100-level course (of the same technology) as a prerequisite. Some courses may have more than one prerequisite. In some cases, prerequisites can be waived. Some examples of how we can waive a prerequisite include:

  • Proof of taking the eqivalent course at an accredited institution (completion certificate, transcript, e.g.)
  • Certification in a related field (NABCEP Certification, e.g.)
  • Instructor in a related field
  • Licensed professional in the skilled trades (electrician, plumber, e.g.)

For more general information about our courses, our numbering system, and our audiences, please visit our Training page.

Any and all prerequisites will be listed as a bullet point under each course offering on our Course Schedule and throughout the registration process.

Is an online course the same as a face-to-face course? Are all courses available online?

6. Many MREA courses are available in either the traditional face-to-face format, or online. The learning objectives and course content are the same in both formats, but the activities and assessments are catered to course delivery. Courses that we deliver in both the classroom and online include:

  • Basic Photovoltaics (PV 101)
  • PV Site Assessor Training (PV 201)
  • PV System Design (PV 202)
  • PV Sales and Finance (PV 203)
  • 2014 National Electrical Code Update for PV (PV 614)
  • Solar Domestic Hot Water Systems (ST 101)
  • Solar Thermal Site Assessor Training (ST 201)
  • Introduction to Wind Systems (W 101)
  • Wind Site Assessor Training (W 201)

We offer our Solar Training Academy throughout the Midwest, which includes Basic PV (PV 101), PV Site Assessor Training (PV 201), Intermediate PV (PV 205), and PV Design and Installation Lab (PV 301) in a one-weekend-per-month format, for those who prefer networking, and classroom and hands-on learning. For more information on our Solar Training Academy, visit our Course Schedule or contact Clay Sterling at clays@midwestrenew.org or 715-592-6595, ex. 110.

Not all MREA courses are available online. Those with hands-on components must be offered in a face-to-face setting. These courses include:

  • Intermediate PV (PV 205)
  • PV Design and Installation Lab (PV 301)
  • Solar Water Heating Installation Lab (ST 301)
  • Small Wind Turbine Design and Construction (W 306)
  • Introduction to Tower Climbing and Safety (W 307)
  • Small Wind Turbine Repair and Maintenance (W 401)

See our Course Schedule for a list of our current course offerings.

Do I have to attend the live webinars in an online course?

7. We offer two types of online courses for credit:

  • Self-paced with optional, weekly webinars
  • Mandatory webinar attendance, where material is presented and participation is required

In our self-paced courses, participants can go as fast or as slow as desired in the alloted time. All presentations are recorded, and topic resources, assignments, and quizzes are posted on the MREA course website, courses.midwestrenew.org. Webinars are scheduled (usually once per week) an announced on the Course Schedule and throughout the registration process. Webinars are recorded and subsequently posted on the course website, so those who could not attend the live session can listen afterwards. These self-paced, online courses still include instructor interaction - through the online course website and via emails. 

Courses with mandatory webinar attendance are not the same as self-paced, online courses. Although the webinars are also recorded and subsequently posted on the MREA online course website, and we can provide a Letter of Completion to those who listen to the webinars in their entirety, we cannot grant any Continuing Education Credits associated with the course unless the enrollee actively participates in the scheduled webinars, and completes any posted assignments or quizzes. This is a policy because of our accreditation status, and the standards set forth by credentialing and licensing agencies.

If you have any questions about the logistics of taking an online course with the MREA, please contact Jenny Heinzen at jennyh@midwestrenew.org or 715-592-6595, ex. 108.

I'm an instructor. Can I teach MREA courses at my institution?

8. Yes! You can become a Recognized Training Provider (RTP) with or without a Partnering Institution (PI). Contact Julie Brazeau at julieb@midwestrenew.org or 715-592-6595, ex. 119 to learn how to become an RTP, and take advantage of any available stipends.

See our Instructor Training page for more information.

Do MREA Members get discounts on courses?

9. Yes! The MREA offers Personal and Business Memberships. Personal Memberships give you a $20 discount on all MREA open-enrollment courses, and Business Memberships allow two people from your business to receive the $20 course discount for all MREA open-enrollment courses. For a full description of member categories and benefits, or to become an MREA Member, please visit our Membership page.

Where in the world is Custer, WI?

10. The MREA headquarters (Renew the Earth Institute) is in Custer. Custer is in Portage County, Central Wisconsin, seven miles east of Stevens Point. You can easily get here from Hwy. 10 when you come for The Energy Fair in June. We're open year-round as well, and offer tours for just $3/person. Visit us!

What if I need to cancel a course registration?

11. To cancel a course you have registered for, email registrations@midwestrenew.org or call the office at 715-592-6595. You will forfeit at least part of your tuition fee, depending on how much time is left before the course begins. For our full cancellation policy, please visit our Policies page.

What if I don't finish a course?

12. If you have registered and paid for a course, but would like to transfer to another offering of that course, you will be charged a $25 processing fee. If you have begun an online course but don't finish it by the designated end date, we can enroll you in a later offering for the same $25 fee. Please see our Policies page for more information or call the office at 715-592-6595.

Can I pay for a course with a check?

13. If you need to pay your tuition with a check, please call the office to register. 715-592-6595. Online registrations require a credit card or paypal account.

I just signed up for a course. What happens next?

14. You will receive an automatically generated email confirming your registration. If we don't have a record of you having taken the proper prerequisites, we will contact you. If you have signed up with the Membership (discounted) price, and you are not a Personal or Business Member of the MREA, we will contact you. 

If you've registered for a face-to-face course, just show up on that day. Your instructor will also likely email you a few days before the course begins to verify your planned attendance, and to give any last-minute instructions, like parking directions or nearby lunch options, e.g.

If you have signed up for an online course, you will recieve a "welcome" email from Training Coordinator Jenny Heinzen which includes some instructions and logistics regarding the course website, webinar information, and course schedule.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact:

Jenny Heinzen
MREA Training Coordinator
jennyh@midwestrenew.org 
715-592-6595, ex. 108