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Renova Energy Highlight


How many COD Alumni does it take to harness and store clean solar energy? 

120 Plus at Renova Energy… and growing!

As an entrepreneur, Vincent Battaglia had always heard the most difficult challenge for businesses in the Coachella Valley was that there was no place to find career-minded individuals in their 20s and 30s to be a part of a growing company. 


PICTURED:  Vincent Battaglia, Founder/CEO of Renova Energy (far right), with a small sampling of Renova’s more than 120 COD alumni currently on staff, including (left to right) Nate Lewis, VP of Sales and Marketing; Nelson Lewis, Energy Consultant; Juan Pablo Grados, Solar Engineer; Gardett Matthew, Solar Tech; Michael Cordero, Energy Consultant; Royce Jones, Lead Solar Engineer; Adrian Reyes, Solar Tech Supervisor; Hector Rochin, IT Technology Administrator; Cesar Lopez, Solar Engineer; Caitlyn Kern, Energy Consultant; Brittnie Willison, Project Coordinator; Tiffany Grace, RenovaPLUS Bookkeeper; and Lori Vazquez, RenovaPLUS Systems Supervisor.


But Vincent started to notice, during the downturn in real estate in the late 1990s, that College of the Desert was offering programs promoting not just entrepreneurism but also solid technical skills and training in careers that mirrored the way the Coachella Valley was growing. 


As he was making plans to go back to school, he decided to enroll in math classes and an accounting course at COD to hone his skills. He went on to develop the business plan for Renova Energy Corporation as part of his master’s thesis and then launch the company in 2006. 


As he was trying to catch his footing, the business was growing and he needed workers, the bulletin boards at College of the Desert became his closest ally. He literally stalked the bulletin boards at COD every day, combing the note cards pinned on the board by students looking for work. 


Those bulletin boards provided essential support for Renova during critical growth periods. Vincent recounts how he could bring in someone that he found on the bulletin board at COD and know exactly what career path they were on – engineering, technical, sales or administrative. 


He would pull of the little index card, note the student’s area of academic study and career path, give them a phone call, discuss current job openings and more often than not put them to work. It was that simple.


“I gradually grew the company using that simple job board at COD to a $40 million company with more than 160 employees,” Vincent says. 


As the renewable energy industry grew, College of the Desert established a center for workforce and career pathway development in energy and sustainability to meet the local needs. Vincent worked “hand-in-hand” with Larry McLaughlin, the director of the energy center at COD, to develop a 60-hour training class, preparing solar trainees for their accreditation test. And then he put them to work. 


As Renova has grown to a mid-sized company, its partnership with the College has continued to grow as well. They continue to offer tours of their campus and installations, working with COD professors to bring classes and students to see the number and variety of career opportunities available in the rapidly growing solar and battery storage industry. 


Summer internship opportunities are also made available to COD students, a great way to open the door to a career in the renewable energy industry. Currently, Renova boasts an estimated 120 staff members who are COD alumni. 


“College of the Desert has become our solar university,” Vincent says. “You could say, we are COD.”


COD Continues to Invest in Clean Energy Programs

College of the Desert continues to grow its innovative solar and clean energy programs, receiving $325,000 in clean energy grants during the 2016- 2017 academic year. Larry McLaughlin, who served formerly as Director of the Advanced Transportation Technology & Energy Center at COD, is now Deputy Sector Navigator for Advanced Transportation and Renewable Energy (ATRE) for the Inland Empire/Desert region. Jon Cafery is the project director for the Proposition 39 Clean Energy Grant, which provides regional training for Career Education to help prepare and connect students to jobs and careers in the energy, construction and utilities sector.