Category Archives: Board of Advisors


While working at a residential solar company in California during the summer of 2013, Alex Wilhelm learned the importance of electricity in rural communities. After moving back to Chapel Hill, NC, he decided to take a leap of faith and started United Solar Initiative, a scalable and sustainable non-profit organization. Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Alex was well aware of the sacrifices necessary to turn an idea into a reality. Alex hopes with USI, he can catalyze the world’s transition to a more sustainable energy source by working with the developing solar industry. Alex is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studies finance at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. At UNC, Alex is the president of the Student Environmental Action Coalition and the Philanthropy Chair for Chi Psi Fraternity. Alex is currently living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and can be contacted at


Markus is the founder and CEO of Strata Solar. He has over 25 years of experience in the media industry, primarily with Bertelsmann AG and Time Warner; serving as CEO for publishing and direct marketing firms including Bookspan, Doubleday Direct, in the UK, Canada, Australia/New Zealand, China, and Korea. Markus has been a member and Chairman of many boards – including Chairman of the Direct Marketing Association, Board member of the DMEF, and Board member of Barnes & Noble to name a few. Markus is currently a Board member of Guthy-Renker, he is a Member of the Energy Policy Council North Carolina, Chairman of the Renewables Committee, on the Advisory Board at the UNC School of Public Health, and he is on the Advisory Board of Collider Media.


Richard Harkrader, an architect emeritus, building contractor, solar installer, and real estate developer, is the founder and partner of two other businesses: New Morning Solar Realty and Sister Communities of San Ramon. Richard is Treasurer and Projects Manager for Sister Communities of San Ramon Nicaragua where he and his wife, Lonna, manage community development projects. Mr. Harkrader advocates for renewable energy and energy efficiency, serving three times as Chair of the NC Sustainable Energy Association, where he is currently on the Board. He was recently named Treasurer and serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance. He served for 7 years as the environmental representative on the NC Legislative Study Commission on Electric Utility Deregulation and was instrumental in starting NC Green Power, where he was Vice Chair for 2 years. Mr. Harkrader lives in Durham, NC.


Rye is co-founder and managing partner of Double Time Capital, an investment firm that focuses on cleaner energy assets. A TED Fellow, he worked previously at Duke Energy, where he led a team focused on disruptive innovation for the Chairman and CEO. He is the author of It Happened on the Way to War, a memoir about his experience co-founding the non-governmental organization Carolina For Kibera while serving as a U.S. Marine. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.