Punching the Clock: A rising power

One home-grown New Berlin business has been ahead of the curve in saving its customers money – and saving the planet.

More than 30 years ago, David Austin was an electrical engineering student at Clarkson University, a leading technology school, when the United States entered a political crisis with several allied Arab nations over its controversial support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The result was the 1973 oil embargo.

With cars lining up at the gas pumps, Austin began exploring alternative energy options. Far ahead of his time, he found Clarkson didn’t offer a single course on solar power.

Not discouraged, he began the ground work for his own alternative energy company and changed his major, graduating with a bachelor of science in small business.

In 1978, Austin opened his business in the Town of New Berlin, focusing on solar, wind and geothermal renewable energies, and called it Great Brook Enterprises. Today, the company is called Great Brook Solar NRG, LLC.

“It may have been too far ahead of its time back then,” joked Austin, who explained that early on he struggled financially and was a “one-man operation.”

Today, Great Brook Solar NRG has six employees, including two, two-man installation teams, an engineer and office manager who specializes in obtaining government grants for customers.

This past spring, the company earned local headlines after installing 54 solar panels on the roof of the New Berlin Library.

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