Student intern set to make solar calculator web ready

June 2, 2020

A solar calculator developed by a Heartland intern during the summer of 2019 will be taken to the next level this year with help from another student intern.

John Kirkvold, a computer science major at South Dakota State University, will be spending the next few months working to make the calculator web functional.

The tool was developed to determine how behind-the-meter renewable generation affects utility rates as well as help end-use customers determine true cost savings of installations.

Adam Graff

“The current calculator is only available in an Excel worksheet which must be downloaded to use,” said Heartland Director of Power Supply Adam Graff. “It is not easily shared, and a web version would make it more user friendly and ensure it remains current over time.”

The calculator has certain assumptions built into it, based on the user’s location, which need to be updated periodically. A web interface will ensure the latest data is always available to the user.

Kirkvold will also be tasked with developing a system to display information on Heartland’s generation and load in real-time on the television monitors in Heartland’s lobby.

Kirkvold was born in North Carolina where his parents were both in the military. He and his family lived in various places until he was 16 when they moved from Stavanger, Norway to Sioux Falls, SD where he graduated from Roosevelt High School.

John Kirkvold

A love of computers since his youth led Kirkvold to choosing a major in computer sciences at SDSU. He enjoys learning how computer systems work as well as how to design them. He has previous experience working at Valley Queen in Milbank, SD as a software development intern where he developed web-based applications and designed company software as part of a team.

He is excited to start working at Heartland saying, “I think what Heartland does is a really important part of society and it is really rewarding that I am able to create and design software.”

Kirkvold is a lover of the outdoors, especially rock climbing, and is the newly elected president of the SDSU climbing club. He is also a contracted cadet of the SDSU Army ROTC and is the Sargent of his ROTC Platoon.

Upon graduating college, Kirkvold plans to commission as an officer in the U.S. Army, either doing four years of active duty or six years of guards.

Heartland was awarded a scholarship through American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy and Efficiency Development (DEED) program to help fund this internship. DEED funds educational scholarships to help improve the operations and services of public power utilities.

Terms of the scholarship include periodic written reports to DEED as well as sharing any tools developed over the course of the internship that could be beneficial to other public power utilities. Heartland was also awarded a DEED scholarship for last year’s internship to develop the calculator.