This is your SolarWakeup for August 18th, 2017

This week has been tough on news. A ton of coverage on the 201 petition hearing and Monday’s solar eclipse. One story line that is prevalent is that the industry is fighting against itself and there is a civil war. This could not be farther from the truth in my opinion. Two companies are supported by a third. All three seem to be in financial trouble and stand alone to say that they need to be saved. Everybody else is on the side of the table saying that the industry is growing, competing and consolidating to the companies that are able to generate a profit or raise money effectively. Solar is coming together in a way that it has rarely done. Let’s change the narrative that solar is fighting because that isn’t the case. Keep your eyes and ears open on the hearings and lobbying that will start soon. We are seeing which companies are looking to compete in solar versus those that are hoping you don’t realize that they don’t care about your success. We need win-win situations to mature as an industry and the 201 is anything but that.
Big News Next Week. I am working on something exciting and hope to share this with you next week. I will need your help to execute and look forward to it.

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Yann


This is your SolarWakeup for August 17th, 2017

The 201 Petition PR Tactic. The hearing at the trade commission had the solar industry outnumbering the bankrupt petitioners by a 10 to 1 ratio. As I read the quote from Suniva, ““We’re not out to kill the industry,” said Matt Card, Suniva’s VP of commercial operations. “We are very open to a solution that works for all parties.” I realized that the company is trying to position itself post 201 petition as a company that can still do business in the market. It’s hard to understand what it is that the petitioners want because they’ve already called for an insanely high minimum price that would cripple our market. If they really mean what they said, then they should propose something else. How about $0.03/watt tariff on foreign modules that is given back as a subsidy to US manufacturing in the form of payroll adjustments? In a 10GW market, that would be a significant amount of money to create local manufacturing jobs.
SolarWorld Goes To Market. As an update to the previous comment about SolarWorld assets being purchased by the CEOs new company, the US entity was not yet purchased and represents the key subsidiary of SolarWorld. The administrator will focus on this now and try to find a buyer for the company. Interesting opportunity for the company to decide how the 201 petition impacts the ability to market the company.
Nevada Netmetering Nightmare. I don’t know if the Nevada regulatory fight will ever end but the market will keep moving in the forward direction including the restructuring of the energy market.

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Yann


This is your SolarWakeup for August 16th, 2017

The 201 Hearing Thus Far, a New Player Chimes In. If you have never heard of Stion, a thin film solar manufacturer, you are not alone. Until yesterday, I had never heard their name but I was curious when I saw that they were testifying in favor of the 201 petition. Stion has raised nearly a quarter billion dollars and seems to have managed to spend it all given that they have fallen short on their property tax payments to property tax collectors. The Mississippi Development Authority has notified and amended the arrangement for the company that originally promised to create 1,000 jobs in MS. See, Stion isn’t against subsidies, they have taken grants including from DOE, they are against other companies receiving economic development. As Stion, Suniva and SolarWorld go through this process to attempt to kill the US solar market, I urge each company to think about their supply partners. Are their values and interests aligned with yours? Would their hopes hurt your bottom line? The market gives you the flexibility to choose what products you buy, choose wisely. I contacted Stion for comment yesterday. After receiving a template quote from Stion, I asked for a specific result that the company would like to see the ITC order. If and when I receive it, I will update you.
Uniting For Common Good. I am proud of what I saw yesterday. The largest crowd in ITC history according to the commission staff. Three overflow rooms at the hearing and positive stories about the jobs and impacts companies are creating in the US. Large and small companies from across America spoke about what the solar industry means to them and how harmful tariffs would hurt the fastest growing energy market with jobs paying well above national averages. We’ve had tariffs in the US for years on foreign modules. Solar manufacturers in the US weren’t alone in struggling with our fast moving market, that is part of growth. SunEdison even went bankrupt regardless of how cheap solar panels were. In our business, if you do not execute flawlessly, you will have troubles running your business. Regardless of the bumps we have faced, companies came to DC, with the help of SEIA, and spoke out. That is a maturing market.
Micro Product Wars. A video in the microinverter/optimizer market has created a bit of an internal fight. In short, Enphase made a video comparison of AC modules being installed versus SolarEdge and SolarEdge didn’t like it. They sued and asked for the video to be barred from marketing and the judge apparently said no. When I lead a PR and marketing team, bad stuff would happen and I felt like sometimes doing nothing was a lot more effective than being defensive or offensive. I wish someone would have said to SolarEdge, “Do you know how difficult it is to get people to watch a video on YouTube? It will never get mass market views.” Because then I would have never seen, cared or commented and you would get the last 60 seconds of your life back.

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Yann


This is your SolarWakeup for August 15th, 2017

Hearing Number 1. Tomorrow you will see the first hearing in the 201 petition process. Complete with public comments and potentially some questions from the ITC commissioners, some parts of the story may become clearer. SEIA has organized hundreds of solar executives and workers to come to the hearing to show what this means to all of us. Times like these show the importance of taking a day to tell your story to politicians and regulators. Another opportunity is in California, organized by CalSEIA, to speak with over 20% of the legislators about solar and storage. I encourage you to invest your time to go to Sacramento, reach out to CalSEIA to do so.
The Eclipse Hype. We’ve seen the unease about solar energy during a solar eclipse in Germany a few years ago. With proper planning, the grid operators were able to handle the few hours without problems. Keep in mind that even though solar will be leaving the grid for a few hours, demand response and peak power pricing will ensure that the grid remains stable and operating.
You’ve Got To Read This. A story about nuclear power plants that have some interesting (plentiful) talking points. Keep in mind that these power plants are being built with ratepayer pre-payment and guaranteed return on the investment. In short, there really is no risk to the shareholder of the public company except if the company fails to execute (without regard to schedule or budget) and regulators revoke the ratebasing of the sunk costs. Legislators are talking about: 1. A production tax credit (don’t ask me for what), 2. Expansion of the loan guarantee program, 3. Inclusion of societal benefits to view benefits of new plants. The irony is thick in this one.

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Have a great day!
Yann