March 2016 issue: Pointers for projects, racking, smart modules and more

In this issue:

Pointers for Profitable, Safe, Efficient Projects

Relationship between inverters and batteries growing at three companies

Module-level power electronics pushing smart modules into limelight

Grid-connected storage lacks direct standards, but that may change


A second chance to do business for good

Kathie ZippThe industry rejoiced at news of the ITC renewal last December. Nevertheless, to some the decision seemed to come out of nowhere. SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch addressed this point in a video during the opening session of the PV Conference & Expo (formerly PV America) in Boston this February.

Though the renewal seemed almost out of the blue, the video (available on showed the extensive efforts made by SEIA, its board members and the industry to create a strategic renewal plan, which was vigorously implemented. SEIA lead nationwide advocacy campaigns, held lobbying days in Washington and flew 14 CEOs from around the country to Washington to meet to speak with Congress in one united voice, stressing the ITC’s importance. SEIA recognized the need for “champions” and found them in Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) who helped support the renewal.

Christopher Mansour, SEIA VP of Federal Affairs, noted in the video that renewing a tax credit before it expires almost never happens. The solar tax credit was renewed one year early. Resch credits this to the support of the industry. “Collectively we are strong, but individually we are weak,” he said. As a member of the industry, I think we owe a lot to the guidance of our national trade organization.

I found the keynote from Peter Boyd, founder and CEO of Time4Good, equally thought-provoking. The conversation didn’t center so much around his company as it did on the idea of doing business for good in general. He spoke of the Paris climate agreement and how its interpretation happens in rooms such as the one in which we sat. Solar growth is a key part of reducing carbon emissions, and by obtaining a second chance to do business through the ITC renewal, America is given a second chance to be an active participant in the fight to reduce climate change and create a more livable world.

How cool is it that solar provides a way to make money and be successful while helping the planet? How lucky are we to be able to do business for good? Though the show floor of the expo was smaller than other conferences, it still buzzed with business. Curious crowds gathered around the booths of several innovative software companies almost non-stop. Even industry incumbents engaged in intimate conversations, excited to do business this year without an ever- encroaching roadblock.

High-fives and good vibes was the feeling of the PV Conference & Expo. I look forward to seeing the energy continue throughout other industry shows this year.