This is your SolarWakeup for September 22nd, 2017

A Veteran, a Texan, and a Governor Go Into a Bar. This isn’t the start of a bad joke or one of my favorite country songs. This is the end of the pleading going into tomorrow’s 201 injury finding. There are more co-signers to a single letter than all of the proponents of this nuisance bailout. While I am hopeful that one of the yes votes sees the transparent attempt by S&S to hold solar hostage, I expect that injury will be found. I am hopeful that the next stage, where lobbying comes into play much more, that the remedy would be a lot more nuanced than the minimum price bullshit that Suniva proposed. Keep in mind that S&S want to take jobs away from veterans, from coal miners, from oil workers, from hardworking Americans that sit around the kitchen table wondering what is the best career for them and their kids. This is a bailout for bad business executives and has no tangible market impact that would do anything positive for the American economy, including at either petitioners company.

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Yann


This is your SolarWakeup for September 21st, 2017

And Then? And Then, and then, and thenOn Friday the ITC will decide if there was serious injury to the section 201 petitioners. While we all know that this is largely a ploy to increase the value of the bankrupt assets to the lien holders, the ITC looks at it as a recourse of last resort. I.e. the ITC wants to know how Suniva and SolarWorld will be able to come back to life if they get their remedy. Until now, neither company has offered any insight to how the turn around would occur. No plan on becoming less reliant on single customers by building a dealer network, partnering with financial products, returning to bankability (good luck with that) or how to retain employees that will largely be persona non grata in the solar industry as employees of either company. This should raise serious red flags to the ITC that they are being used by foreign funds to milk the American consumer of hard earned money by making solar more expensive. No and then, just the tariff please is what they appear to be saying.
What Happened To California’s 100% RPS? Early this year, in an interview with Senator Wiener of San Francisco, we talked about SB100. The bill made it almost to the finish line getting stuck in a final committee. Reason for the hold up? A large trade union that maintains a large foothold in the withering fossil sector in California. The sad part is that solar actually has a really good union relationship across the Country. Not directly unionized, solar investors and companies use union contractors for the installation of their projects. In California more so than anywhere else, fossil power plants will be replaced by renewable energy and SB100 ensures that this change happens with some regulatory certainty.
Grow Your Customers, Utilities Need EVs. To me it is the single most obvious business move since I’ve been running companies. Utilities need more customers to buy EVs, share EVs, and use EVs on demand. This takes market share from the oil companies and grows the need for power, transmission of energy and consumer’s dependence on energy providers. Florida is an amazing example of utilities that are NOWHERE with regard to EVs, even though their demand growth is flatter than our State’s topography.

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Yann


This is your SolarWakeup for September 20th, 2017

I am often surprised just how far this platform has come and the reach it has. After my announcement about SolarWakeup Live! yesterday, so many of you reached out with kind words of encouragement. We are sending well over a million emails this year and the network is bigger than ever. I did get a few questions about the event and the reasons for it.
Why 1 on 1 Interviews? Solar conferences are broken. In this format, we are going to do a deep dive with 4 speakers on their domain expertise that has value to the local market. I will be doing the interviews from a perspective of someone that has been there and done that. I don’t like at the questions as a reporter or a theoretical exercise but does it grow the market, can it be financed and does it make the industry money. My aim is to ask the question that a solar CEO or developer wants and needs to hear the answer to.
Why Only A Half Day? Events don’t need to be multiple days to drive value and if the goal is to bring a community closer together, then a half day is sufficient. Folks from out of town can plan a trip to the markets and include an afternoon of learning and networking into a bigger trip, justifying the travel expense. Most importantly, I want to bring this to at least 10 cities next year and longer events just take too much logistical planning to make that work.
How Do I Fund This? Unlike SolarWakeup, these events will be paid for by sponsors because events are not cheap! To make the sponsorships better than anything available in the conference market, you will see sponsors for the entire month leading up to and after the event on the daily newsletter. Because of this, there will be limited sponsorships sold to cover the costs of event and hopefully bring more information in a relevant format to you.

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Yann


This is your SolarWakeup for September 19th, 2017

SolarWakeup Live! The big news you’ve been waiting for. The first SolarWakeup Live! event will be in Boston at the end of October and the second in early December in Washington DC. Over the next few weeks, I will be able to share the speakers with you and give you more information on the location. The mini-conference will go deep into the issues affecting the local market, no panels where panelists only get a few minutes to give talking points but a 1 on 1 discussion that goes in-depth on what you want to know. There will be limited sponsors for this event, if you are interested in discussing how to help please reach out.
The Contract Versus Subsidy. The BNEF summit in London is currently underway and the annual discussion about utilities in a solar era is underway. This year, there are more and more projects that are subsidy free. We have come to the point where most solar developers would choose length of contract (with good credit) over higher PPA rates. For example, most solar investors would take a 30-year 3 cent contract versus a 10 year (then merchant) 7 cent agreement. With the advent of dc-coupled storage, intelligent solar will be more focused on pricing signals from the grid as opposed to contract lengths which has been the principal attack on PURPA contracts.
Friday’s ITC Decision. On Friday the ITC will make a decision if injury was caused to US panel manufacturers. The answer is a resounding no, injury was not caused to SolarWorld and Suniva. Both companies were rewarded with many subsidies by various Government entities and in some cases simply failed to adapt to the solar market. In other cases, customers were left without timely deliveries when supply chain software wasn’t executed on properly or new manufacturing lines didn’t optimize in time. Solar is hard, that is no secret. But riding the solar coaster means we all have to go through the ups and downs together, nobody gets to skip the line and go to the finish line because they didn’t feel up to it.

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Yann