Hopper at SEIA completes women’s superfecta


Hopper at SEIA completes women’s superfecta

When Abigail “Abby” Ross Hopper assumes her duties as president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association next week, it signals a new course for the national association and ushers in an era when the six most powerful association positions in the U.S. solar industry will be held by women.


Abigail “Abby” Ross Hopper’s ascension to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) top spot, held on an interim basis by long-time SEIA staffer Tom Kimbis after previous President and CEO Rhone Resch stepped down in April, represents two subtle but significant developments in the solar industry.

First, the choice of Hopper, a woman with important state-level experience with the solar industry, may represent a shift for the organization from the focus under Resch, which was primarily on federal policy. With the extension of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) in December 2015, most industry observers believe the bulk of future solar-policy discussions will shift to the states.

The recent decision in Arizona to end net-metering in all but name, the ballot initiative defeated in Florida that would have kept solar strictly in the hands of the state’s utilities and Nevada’s ongoing struggle to figure out how to integrate solar into its grid are just a handful of the issues Hopper seems particularly qualified to tackle.

Second, when Hopper becomes the first woman to take the reins at SEIA, the six most influential U.S. solar associations will be headed by women. Julia Hamm currently leads the Smart Electric Power Alliance, which is heavily involved in solar at the utility and community scale. Andrea Luecke leads The Solar Foundation, which puts out the annual solar jobs survey and oversees other critical industry research. Carly Rixham is in charge at the American Solar Energy Society.

In addition, Bernadette Del Chiaro and Lucy Mason run the SEIA chapters in California and Arizona respectively. Those two states rank No. 1 and No. 2 in SEIA’s Top 10 Solar State rankings, which put those two associations – and the women who run them – at the apex of influence they wield as the challenges solar faces continue to grow.

According to the industry group Women in Solar Energy (WISE), women made up only 21.6% of the solar workforce in 2014, the last year of available statistics. That realization makes Hopper’s and the others’ leadership even more crucial since the solar industry has emphasized that it wants more women to become part of the industry.

Tony Clifford, part of SEIA’s executive committee and chief development officer for Rockville, Md.-based Standard Solar, had the opportunity to observe and work with Hopper when she worked on Gov. O’Malley’s staff in Maryland. He says he’s thrilled to have someone of her caliber to lead solar’s national association.

“Abby Hopper possesses the skill set, experience and personality to effectively lead SEIA through what are undoubtedly going to be turbulent times,” Clifford said. “Her past work has demonstrated her management capabilities and provided her with broad energy experience at the public service commission, state and federal levels.”

“Of equal importance is her demonstrated ability to work both sides of the political aisle and to effectively deal with a variety of energy industry and environmental stakeholders,” Clifford added. “She is an outstanding choice to lead SEIA.”

For her part, Hopper is excited to join the solar industry at such a pivotal time.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead SEIA,” Hopper said. “I have spent my career working with all sides of the political and ideological spectrum to arrive at pragmatic approaches to energy policy, and I believe I can use that experience to serve our SEIA members.”




Fall 2016 WISE Newsletter


Fall 2016 WISE Newsletter

Dear WISE Stakeholders,

Wow. It's hard to believe that another year has passed and WISE is now stronger than ever!  2016 has been fantastic for WISE thanks to your support and encouragement. Here are a few highlights: 

  • #NationWISE 2016 - This year our second-annual national round table connected 500+ WISE stakeholders in 20 cities across the U.S. SAVE THE DATE The 3rd Annual #NationWISE 2017 will be held on February 23rd, 2017!
  • #WISETribe Membership - Our WISETribe Membership numbers are way up! We gained an additional 200 members in 2016, making it our most successful WISE year to date! Make sure if you are an active WISETribe member to join WISEweb and stay up to date on the latest exclusive content. 
  • #WISETribe Programs - We had a fantastic year of programming for our members - supporting SheSpeaks Solar efforts, discounts at InterSolar, SPI and various GTM and Infocast events. Our mentorship program is getting organized to kick-off the 2017 year! Recruiters, job postings and career services keep growing!  Our Blog is now the WISE Podcast. All of the WISE programming you love, and a few new additions, will be back in full force in 2017! 

Looking forward to next year, our presence will continue to grow, through new and exciting partnerships. We are finally in a position to expand the WISETribe internationally, through WISE Europe, WISE Asia and through our WISE Workshops. New major conferences - both regional and national - are in discussions with us to partner on gender diversity and pool qualified speakers for their 2017 line-up. And everyday employers approach us requesting assistance in hiring more diverse employees into the solar energy industry. Our distribution reach through social media is also on the rise! 

It's been a fun year and 2017 is looking even better. We can't do it without your support and the support of our industry partners.  We are now actively fundraising for our 2017 General Fund to underwrites operation for the year, tell your employers you want to see another year of WISE!

Thanks for believing in WISE.

The WISE Warriors

Save the Date: #NationWISE - February 23, 2017

#NationWISE, our annual multi-city round table, is back for the 3rd year! Already 17 cities have signed up. Want to get involved? The deadline for city submissions is January 15th, 2017. Learn more>>

WISETribe Programs

Members - have you joined WISEweb to gain access to exclusive content? If not, please do! Also, if your company supports WISE through corporate sponsorship, you may be eligible for access. Ask! Our mentorship program is getting organized for the 2017 year! If you are a WISE member and wish to opt-in to the 1-on-1 matching program, log in to your WISEWeb account and ensure you opt in to the program via your profile (My Profile > Options > Edit).

Not yet involved? Become a WISE member today.

KidSun Education

Kidsun Education, our partnership with Brightergy, has been under serious development in 2016 and is ready for formal launch! We have partnered with ReCharge Labs, Inc. (Formerly KidWind, Inc.) to bring the latest in solar kits and K-12 solar energy curriculum, all mapped into Common Core. We plan to hit the road this year to showcase our efforts>> make sure your city is on the map! 

Please reach out to inquire about getting KidSun Education locally in your school! Learn More >>>

*NEW* WISE Podcast  

We have formally launched our latest news endeavor, WISE Podcast. Tune in to WISE via SoundCloud in 2017 to hear about the latest happenings, interviews and industry initiatives.  


Portland, OR - August 2016 WISE + OSEIA.  Thank you to Itek Energy and Eoff Electric Supply!


Solar donation will help support domestic violence survivors at YWCA


Solar donation will help support domestic violence survivors at YWCA

SALT LAKE CITY — A donation from a Utah tech company will help Utah’s largest women’s shelter save money.

YWCA Utah Wednesday "flipped the switch" on a new 53.6 kilowatt solar electric system that will allow the local nonprofit organization to save more than $160,000 over the next quarter century on its electricity bills. The savings can be used to provide more critically needed programs for women and families who have been victims of domestic violence, said Shauna Spencer, YWCA chief domestic violence services officer.    

"Today, about 1 in 3 women in Utah will experience domestic violence in their lifetime," she said. "The most important thing we can do is help the individuals here feel safe. And from feeling safe, envision hope."

YWCA Utah provides shelter, transitional housing, education, and supportive services for women and children who have experienced family violence. The new rooftop solar panel system was installed on the organization’s Kathleen Robison Huntsman Residence, offsetting a third of the building’s electricity needs.

The donation was the first of Auric Solar’s "Buy Solar. Give Solar" program in which for every 100 kilowatts of solar installed commercially and residentially, the company donates 1 kilowatt toward a free solar system to a deserving community organization.

“YWCA Utah has a track record of success helping the community, and their inspiring commitment to serving people will have a ripple effect for generations,” said Auric Solar co-owner Jess Phillips. “That commitment aligns perfectly with what Auric Solar is about and who we strive to be.”

**Republished By Jasen Lee @JasenLee1Published: Oct. 26, 2016 3:30 p.m. http://bit.ly/2fnLWQU



Greentech Media Shows that SheSpeaks Solar at U.S. Solar Market Insight 2015

Returning for its fifth year, Greentech Media’s U.S. Solar Market Insight 2015 conference is essential for anyone involved, or looking to get involved, in the U.S. solar industry. Based on over five years of analysis of installation data, the event dissects cost trends, discusses the future of project finance and business models, and examines the potential of individual states and market segments. The event, taking place November 2-4 in San Diego, California, will focus on the future and help you hone your strategy for 2016 while connecting with an exclusive group of industry thought-leaders. Attendees will learn how to navigate complex market dynamics and local policies to access innovative project finance and unlock hidden growth markets.

The speaker lineup features 15 of the industry’s all-star females - and WISE members - including Kristina Peterson, Senior Vice President at Brookfield Renewable Energy Group, Meghan Nutting, Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs at Sunnova, Elena Foukes Lucas, CEO of Utility API, and many more! Check out the event website to learn more. Register today to receive 15% off your ticket price with the discount code: WISE15.

Greentech Media is a SheSpeaks Solar conference. WISE works with conference organizers such as Greentech Media, the Midwest Solar Expo, and others to increase the number of female speakers at industry conferences. We do this by sharing our esteemed list of members and their speaker credentials with organizations that we partner with. For more information on making your event a SheSpeaks Solar event, contact info@solwomen.org.


Spotlight On: Nicole Litvak, Solar Analyst, GTM Research

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Spotlight On: Nicole Litvak, Solar Analyst, GTM Research

Each quarter, we sit down with female leaders in the solar industry to learn more about their paths to success, their careers, and we ask for their advice to our network. This quarter, we sat down with Nicole Litvak, Solar Analyst at GTM Research. Nicole has been an avid supporter of WISE, and even helped WISE to launch our SheSpeaks Solar program in 2014. Here’s what she had to say.

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New Workforce Development Training Partnership with the North Carolina Clean Technology Center


New Workforce Development Training Partnership with the North Carolina Clean Technology Center

Last month, Women in Solar Energy (WISE) announced a workforce training partnership with the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (formally known as the North Carolina Solar Center). Through this partnership, WISE members will gain increased access to the Center’s robust course offerings and training opportunities, including its Certificate in Renewable Energy Management and Renewable Energy Technologies Diploma Series.

This partnership is indicative of WISE’s overarching workforce development program, which is in line with the non-profit’s mission to advance, retain, and retrain women in the solar energy industry. Women are generally underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers, and according to the Solar Foundation’s 2014 Solar Jobs Census, women comprise a mere 21% of the solar workforce.

“Access to training opportunities is critical to providing women with more opportunities for advancement in the solar energy industry,” said Kristen Nicole, Executive Director of Women in Solar Energy. ”Through this partnership, we hope to encourage the retention of women in the technical aspects of solar, and provide our more junior members with access to education to jumpstart their career in our growing industry.”

“There are many career options for women in the solar industry. We’d like to see more women involved not only in the project development and sales side of the equation, but also in the design, and installation of these systems,” said Lyra Rakusin, Senior Renewable Energy Training Specialist at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. “I’d like to get to a point where we have classes that have 50% attended by females.”

The partnership with the Center is only one of WISE’s workforce development programs. The non-profit has similar partnerships with NABCEP and Solar Energy International, and hosts a jobs board on its members-only portal. WISE also has other programs to support its mission, including mentorship and SheSpeaks Solar, an initiative to widen speaking opportunities for women at industry conferences. The national non-profit also connecting nearly 350 women and men in 15 cities through its #NationWISE round table.

WISE members should use the discount BeWISE to receive discounted registration fees to NCETC's trainings. View upcoming trainings at http://nccleantech.ncsu.edu/education-training.

About Women in Solar Energy (WISE)
Women in Solar Energy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization focused on the advancement and retention of women in the solar energy industry. Companies interested in becoming a Founding Member or supporting the organization through corporate donation should contact Kristen Nicole directly at kristen@solwomen.org. For more information, please visit www.solwomen.org.

About The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center
The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center is a UNC System-chartered Public Service Center administered by the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University. Its mission is to advance a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices, and policies. Visit:www.nccleantech.ncsu.edu


Meet Rachel and Elizabeth from Cycle for Science


Meet Rachel and Elizabeth from Cycle for Science

So, has this happened to anybody else? Where you joke about doing something for so long, that it actually becomes your future? That’s what happened with Cycle for Science, our cross-country bicycle trip to bring hands-on science lessons to classrooms, libraries and summer programs.

We’re Rachel Woods-Robinson, a solar cell scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and Elizabeth Case, a science journalist starting her PhD in mechanical engineering in the fall, and we leave April 17th. The trip will take about three months. 

We met while studying physics at UCLA, burning the midnight oil in particle physics labs. Rachel and I were lucky to end up in physics, but leaving high school, neither of us thought we would be scientists—because we had no idea what that meant. She played trombone; I was going to study English.

That’s where the “For Science” in our trip comes in. As we bike across America, we’ll be stopping at middle schools and summer programs to teach hands-on lessons about physics and renewable energy. We’re hoping to show the students we meet that science is creative, impactful, and the key to understanding and changing the world around them—as well as to have frank discussions about stereotypes about scientists.

The core of our lessons will be the Sol Cycle, a miniature, 3D-printable, solar-powered bicycle we are in the process of designing. When it’s finished, we’ll release the 3D files online so anyone can print it.  

As neither Rachel nor I are teachers, we’re cognizant of the fact that we do not understand the challenges science teachers face in the classroom. That’s why we will also be interviewing science teachers and educators about innovation in the science curriculum, and curating hands-on lessons and labs. We’ll post all of these videos online for everyone—parents, teachers, curious kids—to use.

We’ve already talked to three teachers, one based in Sacramento, one in San Francisco and one in Cambridge, Idaho. Their stories have left us floored. Their 12 hour days, their non-existant lab budgets. Their dedication and ingenuity. These are the stories people need to hear to glimpse the need in our nation’s classrooms.

Our Kickstarter, which will cover the prototyping and manufacturing of the Sol Cycle, was successfully funded last week. We exceeded our goal of $6,000 by over $1500, meaning we’ll be able to ship more Sol Cycles to more teachers, and leave sample bicycles, solar panels, and motors in the classrooms

We’ll be chronicling our progress at www.cycleforscience.org. We hope you’ll come along for the ride!



Women Only Hands-On Photovoltaic (PV) Workshop

Coming to Albuquerque in May 2015, a women-only, hands-on, photovoltaic (PV, solar electric) workshop. Learn how to size, design and install a PV system! 

SolarizeNM is sponsoring a Women Only Hands-On Photovoltaic Design and Installation class this spring.  It will be held for 5 days over two weekends, May 8-10 and May 16, 17, 2015. In the workshop, you will learn how to size a PV system, learn ways to reduce energy consumption, and have a more efficient home or business. The class will cover planning the best location for a PV array for maximum energy production. It will also include details on how to configure stand-alone (off-grid) and grid-tie (utility-connected) systems. Learn about quality installations.  In hands-on labs, students will learn about wiring sockets and switches. The class will install a system over the second weekend at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice.  Learn safety throughout. No prior knowledge is needed. 

Marlene Brown along with Taiyoko Sadewic will instruct the class.  Marlene has worked with PV systems for over 25 years and has installed hundreds of systems in the U.S. and the developing world.  She has taught PV classes for over 20 years with her own home being one of the projects.  Taiyoko is co-owner of Positive Energy Solar and has also installed hundreds of PV systems. 

Why women only? This is a chance for women to work together and empower each other in a non-competitive atmosphere, on design of a PV system, the use of power tools, and the installation of a fully functional solar electric system. 

The 5-day workshop spans two weekends (Fri-Sat-Sun-Sat-Sun), 8am to roughly 5pm each day. The cost for both weekends is $1000.00 per person and limited to 20 women. There is also a 3-day workshop option. If you are interested in learning about PV in a classroom setting, you can choose to participate in the first weekend only, for $600. There is not an option to attend the 2nd weekend without attending the 1st. 

To register, click on the following PayPal link https://sites.google.com/site/nmcpnorg/home. 

Questions, or to register by check, write to nmcpn.org@gmail.com.

Looking forward to seeing you in May!

-Marlene Brown-

Non-profits interested in having a PV system installed as a class project in the future please call. Marlene Brown at nmcpn.org@gmail.com



The Rise of Solar Loans

Sponsored content written by: Amy Rooker, Vice President of Operations at Dividend Solar

Residential solar is still in its infancy: to date, less than one percent of single-family households have elected to go solar. Although the percentage is small, residential solar represents one of the fastest growing industries in the US. While historically considered part of the “green” movement, today residential solar’s rapid growth is largely being driven by both attractive economics, fueled by a decline in hard and soft costs, and a new financing option: convenient, attractively-priced solar loans that better allocate the economics of solar through ownership. 

Prior to the recent industry pivot towards solar loans, solar leases and Power Purchase Agreements (“PPAs”) had driven industry expansion, allowing homeowners to save money on their utility bill through worry-free third-party ownership (“TPO”). TPO has its limitations, however, because it contemplates a third-party financing company realizing the tax credits and incentives associated with the solar system, often involves yearly escalators that decrease the savings realized by the homeowner over time and can complicate transferability of the system in the event of a home sale. 

The increasingly apparent viable economics of solar, combined with homeowner education, have led to the rising momentum of the solar loan. The benefits of solar ownership are many. Analogous to building equity in your home versus paying rent to your landlord, solar loans make going solar an investment – not another monthly expense. With solar loans, solar tax credits and incentives (which include a 30% federal tax credit and any applicable state and local rebates and incentives) are reallocated to the homeowner – where some would argue they more appropriately belong. Moreover, there are no escalators with a solar loan: a homeowner who makes timely payments can expect their monthly payment to be the same or lower for the life of the loan; further, when they use their solar savings to reinvest in their system, the system can pay for itself in as little as four to five year in some markets, generating free electricity thereafter.  Finally, solar ownership has been demonstrated to increase home values, making it more valuable upon home sale.

Dividend Solar’s EmpowerLoan

Dividend Solar is a non-bank lender that partners exclusively with quality-driven installers across the US. Our $0-down solar loan product, the EmpowerLoan, is designed to benefit all members of the solar value chain, while furthering the proliferation of clean, renewable energy. To that end, Dividend Solar delivers a simple, all-online application process that takes mere minutes to complete. Once a system is installed, the homeowner can enjoy their own mini-power plants that they own for the life their solar system – 25+ years – while earning significant savings, often from day one.

One area where loans have historically fallen short when compared to TPO: hassle-free maintenance and performance guarantees. But now, innovative financing providers, such as Dividend Solar, are filling the gap by providing comparable worry-free, turnkey warranty and performance guarantees. This allows Dividend Solar to combine all the benefits of TPO – $0-down, energy savings, maintenance and performance guarantees – with the financial upside of solar ownership, fusing the security of a lease with the confidence of ownership.

In Sum

Advancing solar saves homeowners money, bolsters the economy, helps the environment, creates jobs and modernizes our energy infrastructure. Because solar loans better align interests along the solar value chain, they will be instrumental in propelling the industry forward, allowing more homeowners to realize the full economic benefits of solar ownership. Going solar is not a green, blue or red idea. It is an economic idea. Going solar makes sense, and it makes sense to do it now.