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Solar Industry Continues Making Great Strides Under SEIA Leadership

By Arno Harris, SEIA Board Chairman and Nat Kreamer, SEIA Board Vice Chairman

More than 150 years ago, American author and humorist Mark Twain wrote, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”  Sadly, some things never change.

Recently, a few bloggers took exception to the performance and salary of Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President and CEO Rhone Resch. They wrote that his job entailed little more than “a hectic life of ribbon cuttings, fundraisers and lobbying meetings on Capitol Hill.”  Nothing could be further from the truth. As leaders on SEIA’s board of directors, we felt it was important to correct the record.

Under Rhone’s leadership, SEIA has helped our industry achieve an impressive list of policy successes, allowing solar to become one of the fastest-growing industries in America, as well as the fastest-growing source of renewable energy.  Here are just a few of these major milestones:

  • Created the 30% solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for both residential and commercial solar installations, later getting it extended twice by Congress
  • Eliminated the $2,000 cap on residential solar power systems eligible to take the ITC
  • Exempted the ITC from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
  • Created 17 separate programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT (ARRA), including the 1603 Treasury Grant Program and the solar Loan Guarantee Program
  • Merged SEIA with the Solar Alliance, greatly expanding the industry’s advocacy at the state level, resulting in:
  • Expanded net energy metering (NEM) caps in multiple states
  • Expanded and protected state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) programs across the U.S.
  • Removed barriers to solar in many areas of the country, including reduced permitting costs and standardized interconnection
  • Worked to expand FERC’s fast track interconnection process
  • Worked with both Republican and Democratic administrations to support solar through Department of Interior and Department of Energy programs 

Here are some other facts conveniently missing from the attacks on Rhone.  Since the ITC was first enacted in 2006, the number of American jobs in the solar industry has grown from fewer than 20,000 to 143,000 today.  Cumulative installed solar in the U.S. has soared by nearly 20 times – from 694 MW to more than 13,000 MW.  And nearly $50 billion has been invested nationwide to install solar.

SEIA’s board-level compensation committee determines CEO pay through a review process that involves rigorous benchmarking of the CEO’s compensation to the pay of CEOs of similar-sized organizations with similar missions.  Compared to the CEOs of trade associations representing traditional energy industries, SEIA’s CEO compensation is low.  The compensation committee’s recommendation is reviewed by the executive committee before being approved.  In keeping with industry practices, the CEO’s bonus is tied to performance against specific goals.

Rhone’s 10-year leadership to the U.S. solar industry has been invaluable – and it’s more important than ever as we head toward the ITC’s 2016 expiration date.  From our perspective, Rhone is an innovative, forward-looking leader with an outstanding record of achievement and is deeply committed to our industry’s continued success.  Rest assured, he is not compensated for ribbon cuttings and mundane meetings.  He’s compensated for getting results and growing solar nationwide.

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