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SEIA Live at Solar Power International

Wednesday, Sep 07 2016

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Comms Team

Solar Power International is the largest solar trade show in North America, and is a jam-packed event full of education, networking opportunities, and more. To help keep your finger on the pulse, SEIA will be running a live blog of SPI 2016, with updates on everything that SPI has to offer. Check back and see what's been going on!

Note: for a full schedule of events, head over to the SPI website. And make sure to download the SPI Mobile App to stay connected!


UPDATE WEDNESDAY 9-14-16 2:00PM: Building the Solar Brand with Power

A quartet of solar communicators, including SEIA's vice-president of communications, Dan Whitten, held a panel on how to grow solar's brand to positively impact the industry moving forward. "People like solar, we have a great story to tell, and we need to tell it," said Whitten on solar's public perception advantage over other forms of energy. The panel discussed the ways in which the solar industry's brand has changed and needs to evolve to position itself positely among potential customers.

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 9-14-16 2:00PM: Panel Discussion: Post-ITC Federal Policy

With leadership from SEIA's Christopher Mansour and policy experts from SolarCity, Recurrent Energy and Senator Harry Reid's office, this panel left no stone unturned when it comes to the policy environment for solar after the extension of the ITC. On top of ensuring that the ITC is protected from future tax reform efforts, the solar industry needs to continue cultivating bi-partisan support. While there is plenty of uncertainty around the upcoming elections in November, there are certain policies and issues we can be sure of working on, including PURPA and developing solar for low and moderate income communities. As one panelist put it, if you're trying to paint solar as an expensive fringe technology for the wealthy, you're about a decade behind the times. There is plenty for the solar industry to work on at the federal level to expand markets and remove market barriers now that the ITC has been extended, so it is critical that we continue our coalition building and unifying to act as the mature industry players we are. 

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 9-14-16 10:00AM: General Session - The View From Here

SEIA's own Tom Kimbis led a far-reaching panel discussion on the short- and long-term future of the U.S. solar industry in the final general session at SPI. The group identified opportunities and risks for the next chapter of growth in solar, including the need for better customer education and awareness, improvements in software, and a focus on open-sourced technology and software to capitalize on emerging approaches to solar development. All panelists agreed that in order for the solar industry to realize its full potential and not get in its own way, it's crucial to view development as a unified goal, not a zero sum opportunity for short-term gains. 

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 9-14-16 8:30AM: SEIA Member Breakfast 

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of SEIA members gathered at the Westgate for SEIA's annual members meeting.  It was an opportunity for solar companies discuss their membership, hear an update from SEIA interim president Tom Kimbis, and network among their fellow members before a busy day at SPI. 

UPDATE TUESDAY 9-13-16 3:00PM: Panel - State Policy and Consumer Protection

A wide range of stakeholders, from industry to regulatory, addressed the growing opportunities to view consumer protection as a frontier for smart policy that builds long-lasting markets. As the California Public Utilities Commission's Sara Kamins noted, no one wants heavy-handed regulation for the industry, but it's important to make sure that solar customers are not at risk. It is in every solar company's interest to ensure that consumer protections aren't used as a wedge to prevent solar from developing and growing, especially in low-income communities. Opportunities exist to use consumer protection not just as a proactive approach to getting out ahead of a growing challenge in the industry, but also as a means of reaching new communities and demonstrating that going solar is not just about swapping one utility bill for another. Protecting consumers is also about providing real savings and concrete benefits to all communitites.

UPDATE TUESDAY 9-13-16 2:30PM: The New Rules of Solar: Understanding the National Solar Business Code

This panel discussion, led by Tom Kimbis, talked about the importance of SEIA's Solar Business Code and its role in setting proactive regulation of the solar industry and SEIA members. Panelists Nicholas Mack of Spruce Finance and Seth Weissman of SolarCity talked about their application of SEIA's suite of consumer protection materials and the future of these efforts. A panel moderated by SEIA's Sean Gallagher on state-level consumer protection measures immediately follows this one.

UPDATE TUESDAY 9-13-16 12:45PM: Roth Capital Solar and Storage Symposium

SEIA's Tom Kimbis delivered the keynote address at Roth Capital Solar and Storage Symposium early this afternoon. "The solar industry is a driving economic engine, employing more than 209,000 Americans," said Kimbis in his address to investors and financiers. 

UPDATE TUESDAY 9-13-16 11:00AM: Panel - Customer Acquisition

SEIA's interim president, Tom Kimbis, opened this panel discussion Tuesday morning by explaining the importance of consumer protection in customer acquisition. As the solar industry grows, there's a strong need for leadership in this arena and SEIA has stepped up to the plate, developing a suite of free resources for members and non-members alike that you can access here. "What we're really trying to do is increase consumer understanding of solar transactions," Kimbis said. This starts by making sure solar companies are educated and thoroughly understand the rules of the road. Panelist Marc Burns, deputy general counsel for Sunstreet Energy Group, touched on the importance of the SEIA Solar Business Code, adding that the biggest takeaway for attendees should be to ensure that customers are protected from unfair, deceptive or abusive acts. Stay tuned for much more on consumer protection and the SEIA Solar Business Code later today during "The New Rules of Solar: Understanding the National Solar Business Code" panel with SEIA's Tom Kimbis, Nicholas Mack of Spruce Finance and Seth Weissman of SolarCity 

UPDATE TUESDAY 9-13-16 10:00AM: Panel - Net Metering Debate in Nevada

At a panel discussion on the ongoing net metering debate in Nevada, there was a healthy amount of optimism for the future of distributed solar, not only in Nevada but nationwide. The panelists explained that what took place in Nevada does not need to be a blueprint for other states, and there's no evidence to suggest that it will be. In fact, we have plenty of positive examples in states like California and New York to use to build future markets. SolarCity's Jon Wellinghoff expressed hope for improvements in rate design here in the Silver State, and that we should expect to see much more clarity when it comes to cost-benefit analysis once the Commission takes up a rate case that will allow for thorough vetting. Jim Avery of San Diego Gas & Electric posited that if rates are designed properly, utilities should be indifferent when it comes to where they buy their power and whether that power is net metered or not.

UPDATE TUESDAY 9-13-16 9:30AM: General Session - Solar Plus: How Solar Got Smart

SEPA's Julia Hamm led a panel discussion with executives from Energy Nest, Sunrun, Sunverge Energy and Southern California Edison on the future of solar and its increasingly important role in American energy. Springboarding off the Opening General Session's discussion, the panelists detailed the pairing of solar with storage, demand response and energy efficiencies to optimize its value to a wide array of customers and to the grid. Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich talked about the need to simplify rate structure for homeowners, and Ron Nichols of Southern California Edison recognized the urgent need to provide opportunities to educate consumers on the complexities of their energy needs. 

UPDATE TUESDAY 9-13-16 7:30AM: Full Recap of Last Night's General Session

Last night's opening session was an exciting way to kick off SPI. Check out our full editorial here

UPDATE MONDAY 9-12-16 6:30PM: Opening General Session

Tonight, David Crane, Nat Kreamer, Steve Malnight and Jeffrey Ball held a passionate and stirring panel discussion about the future of solar in the United States, sparing no feelings. SEIA will be covering this in detail in a post tomorrow morning, so stay tuned! 

UPDATE MONDAY 9-12-16 4:00PM: SPI Codes & Standards Summit 

SEIA's Director of Codes & Standards, Evelyn Butler, led an informative summit exploring the rules of engagement in bringing solar products to market. Leading technical advisors, engineers and inspectors gave an overview of the codes and standards landscape and delved into the evolving nuances of structural, fire and energy codes, as well as PV and solar heating and cooling standards. The summit gave participants active in this space an overview of codes and standards revisions to stay sharp in their compliance efforts.

UPDATE MONDAY 9-12-16 3:30PM: Solar Advocates National Coordination Meeting

Led by SEIA's Sean Gallagher, this productive meeting was a critical part of ensuring that strong solar policy is developed in each and every state nationwide. Representatives from a wide array of leading solar advocacy organizations gathered to discuss priorities and goals for 2017 and beyond. Coordination on these efforts will be key in ensuring that all markets are protected and expanded. With limited resources and scope, we rely on close coordination with our affiliates, allies and advocates to bring solar's voice to state capitals and regulatory agencies in every state. The group of solar policy experts identified a wide variety of challenges and opportunities in various states, including uncertainty surrounding ballot initiative outcomes in Florida, rate design in Wisconsin, and new resource studies by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission.

UPDATE MONDAY 9-12-16 2:45PM: PACE Strategy Summit

More than 100 leaders and stakeholders in the world of clean energy financing gathered today to explore the growing environment of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing. While PACE has expanded rapidly, with 32 state programs nationwide, the goal of the summit was to identify barriers to further scaling availability of PACE financing, especially with regards to commercial solar. Some existing barriers that the broad-ranging group discussed included an education gap with lenders, lack of local or municipal legislation to support PACE programs, inability to bring PACE to entities without proper credit ratings (such as non-profits), and state variations in PACE program design. SEIA will be incorporating the feedback from this crucial strategy summit in a brand new whitepaper on Commercial PACE to be released shortly after SPI.

UPDATE MONDAY 9-12-16 1:00PM: Solar Power International is here!

SEIA has landed in Las Vegas and we are ready to kick off another incredible week of networking, education and innovation at SPI 2016. Today, things are getting started with side-by-side strategy workshops on Codes & Standards and PACE Financing, followed by the opening General Session and a night packed with fun networking events. Stay tuned!

UPDATE FRIDAY 9-9-16 12:00PM: SPI is less than 5 days away!

If you haven't registered for the show yet, there's still time! If you're unconvinced, check out this video for the top 5 reasons to attend: