Solar Power

CALSEIA’s executive director offers four ways to keep California solar strong post election

CALSEIA executive director Bernadette Del Chiaro

CALSEIA executive director Bernadette Del Chiaro

In a letter to CALSEIA members, executive director Bernadette Del Chiaro shares what a new presidency might mean for solar and how the industry can succeed during it. Her sentiments likely echo those from other SEIA chapters. The letter is shared with permission here. 

Dear Solar Professional,

Many people asked me yesterday what the Trump Presidency means for solar, including the Los Angeles Times. In considering this question, reporters Ivan Penn and Rob Nikolewski, got the answer right. I want to make sure you have had a chance to read the article.

It is important to note that this is not 1981 all over again. Even if Trump where to take the solar panels off of the White House in a symbolic gesture of rejection of clean energy, like Ronald Reagan did so many decades ago, he would have rioting in the corn fields if he tried to tear down the million solar panels or thousands of wind turbines already installed across the country.

No one really knows what Mr. Trump, or Congress, will do when it comes to international trade or comprehensive tax reform and how that will impact the American solar market. It is hard for me to imagine this nearly identical Congress undoing what it just put in place a year ago, and what is so wildly popular with American voters (just look at what happened to Amendment 1 in Florida).

While there are many questions about where we are headed, one thing is crystal clear: anything having to do with climate change, such as the Clean Power Plan, is on the chopping block, and that’s not good for the solar industry. But the reality is, the American renewable energy industry is strong and here to stay and the majority of policies driving growth are at the state level.

Yes, we still need policies to ensure market access, and, yes, we still need incentives to level the playing field (just like oil, nuclear and gas need, and get, government assistance). But this multi-billion dollar industry is highly competitive and, what’s equally important, the American people embrace it. As a candidate who won on a message of populism and standing up for the “every-man”, this fact will be hard for a Trump Administration to reject.

I’m hopeful that with a lot of education along with a demonstration of public support, we can get Mr. Trump to embrace solar energy wholeheartedly.

As I told the Los Angeles Times yesterday, “(f)rom the tea party to the extreme liberal wing of America, this is something broadly embraced by all. If he’s looking to bring the country together, this is something all people can get behind.”

Looking ahead, our work is cut out for us and there is no doubt we need a very strong industry association here in California.

Thanks to you, CALSEIA is stronger than ever and we have plans to expand our work further into storage and smart grid policies in 2017 to pave the way for continued growth. But to keep California strong, we need your support. What can you do? Here are four suggestions:

1. When you put your budgets together for 2017, please consider expanding your investment in CALSEIA through membership, events, and sponsorships. It is going to be a pivotal year. We have to fight hard against utility proposals that gut the economic value of solar through extreme anti-solar TOU and commercial rates. And we have to aggressively ramp up access to storage through storage-friendly rate structures and an enlarged CSI-style storage rebate program.

2. Please contribute to our “Stand up for Solar” capitol campaign. Our goal is to hire an additional full-time advocate to work with Brad at the CPUC on storage and smart grid policies. To do this, we need a quick, onetime infusion of support to enlarge our budget.

3. Help us recruit more members. We have grown CALSEIA’s member to over 400 companies that that’s only a fraction of who’s doing business in California, and therefore benefitting from CALSEIA’s work. Please help encourage other companies to join.

4. Consider joining SEIA to make their federal advocacy stronger.

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