Our Principals

Hardy Kuenzl came to the United States from Germany in 1982.  Born of American/German parents he was raised in Germany for the first 18 years of his life.  He studied engineering in Germany before coming to the United States where he chose to spend his adult years.  Hardy got his electrical contractors license and began Gaia Energy Systems in 1994 after moving to Mendocino and seeing the great need for renewable power for the many ‘off grid’ homes.  Hardy has lived ‘off grid’ in the picturesque hills outside of Laytonville, California himself for over a decade and therefore understands all of the nuances of Solar Electric, not only on a professional but also on a personal level.  Since its inception in 1994 Gaia Energy Systems has grown and expanded, along with Hardy’s dream of helping not only ‘off grid’ families reap the benefits of renewable energy, but indeed all families and businesses in Northern California.  His designs and installations range from small scale battery backup systems and home grid tie systems to large three phase commercial systems.  Hardy now operates as Gaia’s CTO (Chief Technical Officer) constantly learning and reviewing knew technologies to make sure that Gaia is always able to offer our customers the best products for homes and businesses and the most advance technology for service, monitoring and maintenance solutions for our commercial clients.


Kate Collins’ interest in renewable energy began in the late 80’s while studying Environmental History at UC Berkeley.  She went on to spearhead an educational program at UC Berkeley called the WEY (Washington Environmental Yard) program which brought environmental education toBerkeley inner city school children.  This program continues to this day.

While working as a student teacher and lecturing to undergraduate students while at university, Kate developed an increasing appreciation for the need for environmental awareness and change in our society.  After graduating from UCB with a minor in Environmental Education in 1993, Kate went on to work in the fields of business and finance management.  In 2003, when she joined Hardy in business, she finally was able to combine her passion for the environment and her enjoyment of business management with her desire to affect environmental change through education and conscious living.  Kate continues to keep her hand in the field of education, speaking to local school groups about the solar industry and green jobs.  She serves as the Chair for the Advisory Committee for the Santa Rosa Jr. College Solar Photovoltaics Certificate and serves as a guest speaker annually for the Mendocino Junior College Green Building Program.