The convention at Solar Power International 2009 wrapped up last week, but the news media and blogosphere are still reeling from the speech by Rhone Resch, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association. Resch's speech was a call to arms to the solar faithful to get real and starting putting their money where their hearts are. As reported on the Green Inc. blog on the New York Times, this was Resch's solution:
Start playing the influence game, raising big money for politicians and mobilizing constituents to pressure Congress to support the solar agenda. "In 2008, the oil industry contributed $22 million to political candidates, the utility industry $21 million," said Mr. Resch. "The solar industry: $138,000. We cannot compete with the entrenched energy interests unless we step up our game."
This frontal assault was even too much for at least one blogger on TriplePundit, who posted a story under the headline: "We Need More Lobbyists! And Other Insights From Solar Power International. " The way that he characterized the tenor of the convention was as "a defiant confrontation with fossil fuels and their lobbyist axis of evil in DC. Their plan: fight fire with fire. The solar industry needs to band together and hire an army of lobbyists to bang on doors in Washington and state capitals and demand either more money and favors, or a level playing field with fossil fuels, depending on how you look at it." Possibly, the message from the convention could have been a little subtler?
In the meantime, elsewhere in California, the march to solar continues. As the Wall Street Journal reports:
California's Solar Initiative is a 10-year, $3.4 billion effort aimed at boosting statewide installation of rooftop solar generation, while pushing down the cost of installation.
California homeowners and businesses filed a record number of applications in August to receive state subsidies for installing rooftop solar panels, the California Public Utilities Commission said in a quarterly report released this month. The state received more than 2,000 such applications in August, up 44% from June, which held the previous record for applications, the CPUC said. Meanwhile, solar panel prices, as reported to the state, fell 9% for small installations and 13% for larger ones, the CPUC said.
The article gave hard data on what has been evident for several months now: the installed cost of solar is coming down. For residential systems of less than 10 kilowatts, the cost has come down 9% from a year earlier-to about $9.02 a watt installed.
And for those who want to see how a whole lot of solar dollars have been spent should have travelled last week to Arcadia, Florida with President Barack Obama to view the nation's largest photovoltaic electricity facility at DeSoto Next Generation's Solar Energy Center. The facility consisting of 90,000 solar panels cost $152 million for 25 megawatts of energy daily, which is enough to power about 3,000 homes. This is the Associated Press report on the visit. Even the muggy skies may not have deterred the lobbyists who may be waiting for their solar clients to start calling.