Tap into the collective power of influential business and NGO pioneers to create new strategies and

 tactics to build a more socially and environmentally conscious state.

The U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce is excited to bring you this series of sustainability leaders who are making a positive impact in Minnesota. Meet the people who are working to improve the environment in Minnesota and around the world. Click here to view all of our Minnesota Leaders.


Nick Hylla


Executive Director

Company or NGO Name:

Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

Region or City:

Minneapolis, Greater MN, WI, IL, IA

1. What is the mission of your company/NGO? 
To promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration.


2. What is the most innovative or environmentally/socially impactful project/practice your company/NGO has implemented?
Recently, our solar group purchase programs have been very successful at helping homes and businesses go solar in 4 Midwest states.


3. How have those projects positively impacted the local community or state?
In 2017, more than 2010 people attended the free “Solar Power Hours” resulting in more than 2MW of solar on 292 properties. We also host an Energy Fair every third weekend in June. This year will mark our 29th year of bringing people together to learn about clean energy and sustainable living, network, and take action toward a sustainable future. More information on the event can be found at: www.TheEnergyFair.org


4. Please share any new projects you will be implementing in the near future.
Check out our pilot “PV Development for Institutions Course” designed to help municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals invest in solar.


5. What are the biggest challenges you have faced when pursuing or trying to promote sustainable practices/projects?
It is probably pretty typical but: time and money. We have had so many request for help with solar projects and programs that we often have to pass due to lack of funding to help.


6. What are your top 3 career accomplishments?  
Working for one of the best non-profit orgs on the planet (MREA of course), working with organizations from all over the country to advance the goals of the US Dept. of Energy Sunshot Initiative, and being recognized by Midwest Energy News as part of their “40 under 40” program


7. What inspired you to choose your career path?  
I started volunteering at the MREA 16 years ago and never got away.


8. Personally—Why do you care about sustainability? What is your story?  
I won the parent lottery and was convinced at an early age:  Good better best, never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best.


9. What do you think are your biggest strengths as a leader in Sustainability
Persistence, positive attitude, and humor.


10. What is/are the biggest incentive(s) for businesses in your area to adopt sustainable practices?  
People are demanding it.  And, the smart ones are paying attention.


11. What is/are the biggest environmental or social challenge(s) facing Minnesota today?  

Energy is everything and Minnesota has an opportunity to transition to a clean energy future. Persistence, planning, and continuous engagement can overcome the political and technical roadblocks.


12. What is the most positive action Minnesota has taken to positively impact its environment or social wellbeing?  
The Minnesota Solar Energy Jobs Act. We’ve got a full roster of students who are currently taking our Minnesota Solar Training Academy, and will be on their way to careers as Solar Professionals upon completion.



Bonus Questions:

1. What are your thoughts on climate change? What is your company/organization doing to help bring awareness or to help mitigate climate change?  
We address climate change directly by not talking about it.  We talk about solar:  it’s economic benefits, job creation benefits, environmental benefits.  We help people invest in solar, whether they believe in climate change or not.


2. How dedicated are Minnesota’s businesses to corporate social responsibility? List some practices you think would be helpful.  
MN is doing great business following corporate social responsibility practices.  Commitments to 100% local, renewable energy by MN corporations could incentive a lot of MN-based solar and wind energy.


3. What has been the most enjoyable part of your role/position/career?  
The people I get to work with.  Never a boring moment!



To learn more, please visit MREA online via:

Facebook: @themrea

Twitter: @mrea, @theenergyfair, @growsolarmidwst, @universitysolar

Instagram: @midwest.renew

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/school/midwest-renewable-energy-association/

WEBSITE: www.midwestrenew.org