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Ward P. Riggins III
President, Essential Alternative Energy

Ward Riggins is founder and president of Essential Alternative Energy. In one way or another, he has been involved with solar energy since 1964.

Essential Alternative Energy

As the dedicated small business owner of Essential Alternative Energy, a solar agency for nonprofit organizations, I strive for customer satisfaction. I have been active in the solar energy industry since 2009 with certification in Green Building and Sustainable Design. I am flexible and hardworking with over 35 years of business experience and a commitment to excellence, and am skilled in operations management, competitive analysis, and financial management. I excel in customer relations through my varied professional interests and experiences. My goal is to provide my customers with the best solutions for their nonprofit solar advantages.

My fascination with the power of off-grid solar energy began at the age of fourteen with a high school science project. I became inspired by a movie depicting an ancient army reflecting the sun’s rays from their shiny shields onto enemy ships and setting them ablaze. Following this logic, I extended the focal point of a parabolic mirror in an attempt to create a mechanical laser and won first prize but, sadly, never quite got the laser to lengthen more than two feet. Indeed, Hollywood has a magic all its own.

Born in Waycross, Georgia, I chose, along with my 5-G Californian wife, to settle in my hometown of Jesup, Georgia, near the coast.

Being from a family of professional photographers, I fell in love with it and became staff photographer for my high school. I graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1979 with a B.A. in history and a minor in religious studies, where I  was on the dean’s list and president of Kiwanis’ Circle K International.

Upon graduation, I began working as a photographer for Larry Case Photography on Sea Island at the Cloister resort and soon served as the photography company’s vice-president. Following my employment with Larry Case Photography, I worked with Gittings Photography in Atlanta and was tasked to open their Southern California office in Beverly Hills.

In 1984 I was hired as Protocol Photographer for the aquatics venue for the Games of the XXIII Olympiad and served as a member of The Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. I served as the official photographer for the 25th reunion of the Mercury 7 “Original Seven” astronauts in 1986 and was the first official Photographer of Protocol for the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California, a position I held from 1990 to 1995.

I  was the photographer for the Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau as well as many resorts, yacht clubs, and civic organizations on the Southern California coast. In 1985 I began my own Newport Beach-based company, Riggins Photography, and served there as one of Orange County’s top ten portraiture photographers for over ten years.

I relocated to Palm Springs, California in 1996 with my wife and daughter to be closer to family, a choice that serendipitously provided me the opportunity to follow my lifelong interest in the solar energy field. I received LEED accreditation from CSU San Diego in solar thermal & photovoltaic systems for residential & commercial design and installation project management and pursued my skills through project management and commercial sales with Rick Rothman’s SunUp Solar Systems, Inc., of La Quinta and San Diego.

The West Coast led the way in sustainable energy industries in the early 2000s, but the East Coast had a long way to go when my family and I relocated to southeast Georgia in 2003. However, as the US East Coast is now set to become a green energy job powerhouse in the 2020s, I am eager to be working with solar energy once again, and from the place my sun energy dreams were first kindled.