'When Americans demand their right to energy independence, we see good things happen'

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pv magazine: How has SEIA’s role changed since its inception and what is its main mission today?

Resch: SEIA’s mission has been and always will be to advocate on behalf of smart public policies that allow for the industry’s continued development. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar. In the past years, we have also bolstered our presence in many states across the nation, as solar has become more and more mainstream.

pv magazine: How satisfied are you with the development of solar in the U.S. in recent years?

Resch: 2013 was a record-setting year for solar, and we expect the coming year to be even better. Half of the distributed generation in the U.S. has been installed in the last two years. Overall, solar blew past the 10 GW mark in 2013 and is expected to have reached 13 GW when the year’s final numbers are tallied.

pv magazine: While solar is booming in a number of states, many others have yet to really embrace PV development. Where are the new and emerging solar markets in the U.S.? What states will be next for major solar development and where is action needed?

Resch: New York has made tremendous progress in the adoption of solar power, as has North Carolina. In the near future, we expect Minnesota and Louisiana will continue to make gains in solar deployment. In other states that don’t have policies that are as friendly to solar development, we are seeing more and more people demand access to distributed generation.

pv magazine: Large utility-scale plants seem to be dominating the solar market in the U.S. Do you expect the rooftop market to increase dramatically, or will U.S. solar remain in the hands of big players?

Resch: In fact, residential solar had its biggest quarter ever in Q3 2013, according to our most recent data. We continue to see strong growth throughout that market – at the end of Q3 2013 there were almost 400,000 homes, schools and businesses across the U.S. with solar energy systems.

pv magazine: What role do you see ordinary people, communities, towns and cities playing in the further development of solar?

Resch: The fact is, nine out of 10 Americans support solar. We are seeing a tremendous amount of support from ordinary people who are insisting on good policy that will enable their use of clean, renewable solar energy. For example, in Colorado the Public Utilities Commission approved a motion Wednesday from the Colorado Energy Office that will keep net metering in place for the near term. This decision came after strong public opposition to a proposal by Xcel Energy to roll back the program. When Americans demand their right to energy independence, we see good things happen.

pv magazine: What are the biggest challenges currently facing PV development?

Resch: Although net metering is in place in 43 states and here in Washington, D.C., it continues to be challenged by utility companies who are worried about their bottom lines.

pv magazine: Speaking of booms, shale gas appears to be a godsend for many in the U.S. How difficult is it for PV to develop further in the face of cheap and "infinite" gas?

Resch: Solar is a clean, renewable energy source that has widespread support from Americans. Rooftop solar will continue to be a choice for many homeowners, as well as businesses. Our annual Solar Means Business report names the top corporate solar users, and it reads like a who’s who of companies: Walmart, GM, IKEA, FedEx, Apple – these companies are choosing solar not only because it is good for the environment, but also because it is good for their bottom line. Solar is by far the nation’s single most abundant renewable energy resource.

pv magazine: How important is the Investment Tax Credit for U.S. solar and should it continue or can future development happen without the assistance it provides?

Resch: Smart, effective policies, like the solar ITC, are helping to power record growth in the solar sector. SEIA is supportive of a Commence Construction modification that, compared to a rigid placed-in-service date, would provide added certainty and flexibility that would allow more clean energy projects to move forward during the statutory duration of 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit.

We look forward to working with both the Senate and House to find common-sense ways to reform the tax code, while continuing to incentivize the kind of growth needed in America to ensure prosperity for future generations.

pv magazine: How many industry members does SEIA have?

Resch: SEIA has approximately 1,000 members across the solar value chain.

pv magazine: How many employees does SEIA have?

Resch: SEIA has about 40 full-time employees, but we work with dozens of top-notch consultants in Washington, D.C. and around the nation.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. pv magazine congratulates the organization on its work in representing the industry and promoting solar energy for the past four decades.