Q: There have been a couple of letters floating around recently taking SEIA to task for not fighting harder in state solar battles like net-metering and others. What do you think of those letters and do you you worry those sentiments could split the solar industry?
Tom Kimbis (TK): I’m familiar with the letters, [and] I don’t think they are going to cause a rift in the solar industry. The [issues raised by the letters] are the kinds of things we discuss [at SEIA] on a daily basis. The majority of our policy expenditures are at the state level, and in 2017, you’re going to see a stepped up push at the state level from SEIA.
Q: If I’m a small solar installer, what would your pitch be as to why I should join SEIA?
TK: You simply can’t make a better investment than joining SEIA. You get access to the discussions, the webinars, the information that comes across on a day-to-day basis. We don’t just represent that big companies that are household names. It’s important to be part of the larger solar community, and we believe that all installers — especially smaller installers — it’s great bang for your buck.
Q: What is the next step for SEIA after the huge ITC victory last year?
TK: We are exploring other avenues to help the solar industry beyond policy. We’re taking a look at getting involved in codes and standards work. we definitely want to help the industry deal with consumer-protection concerns. Especially at the residential level, our business is still word-of-mouth — so you need to do good work to get more work.
As our industry matures, we will be looking to help solar installers on a much broader portfolio of issues.
Want to hear more from Tom Kimbis and other industry leaders? Then check out the Solar Wakeup podcast series, The United States of Solar.