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Published on May 23rd, 2008 | by Guest Contributor

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GTR: Current and Future Trends in the Solar Industry with SPG Solar

SPG SolarSean Daily, Green Living Ideas’ Editor-in-Chief, discusses current trends and future developments in the solar technology industry with Dan Thompson, Founder and CEO of SPG Solar.

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Transcript

Sean Daily:
Hi and welcome to Green Talk, a podcast series from
greenlivingideas.com. Green Talk helps listeners in their efforts to
lead more eco friendly lifestyles through interviews with top vendors,
authors and experts from around the world. We discuss the critical
issues facing the global environment today, as well as the
technologies, products and practices that you can employ to go greener
in every area of your life.

Sean Daily: Hey everybody, this is Sean Daily with Green Talk Radio
from greenlivingideas.com. Thanks as always for listening in today.
We’re going to be talking about solar photovoltaic or PV energy today,
and any of you who visit, regularly visit the greenlivingideas.com
website will know that that’s a very strong area of focus for us and
really a strong area of focus in general for sustainable and green
living or off grid living, many different applications, and solar holds
a lot of promise for renewable energy and getting off of our dependency
on oil, particularly with regards to homes, home environment. And I
have with me today to talk about this topic and get us up to date on
solar industry is Dan Thompson who is the founder, president and CEO of
SPG Solar, which is a west coast based solar installer. They are
actually one of the industry’s most experienced developers, designers
and installers of solar photovoltaic or PV systems for both homes,
small businesses, as well as large scale commercial and government
facilities. They were named one of Entrepreneur Magazines hot 100
fastest growing companies in America. So Dan welcome to the program.

Dan Thompson: Well thanks Sean. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Sean Daily: Great, well lets just jump right in. You know, the solar
industry is a very, very hot market, we’re hearing about it all the
time, and I’m just curious, it’s gotten so hot now, you kind of have to
wonder, I mean, do you see there being a potential here of this
industry bursting kind of like the dot com bubbled happened?

Dan Thompson: Well, that’s a good question. A lot of the financial
people kind of have that question, but in my opinion we’re going to
have a tremendous shortage of quality, qualified people and companies
that can actually install the systems. They’re working through silicon
issues on the front end of PV panel manufacturing. There’s a lot more
capacity coming on line, so I don’t see it as a boom or bust even
though it experienced some of that probably in the 80’s. We have quite
a mature industry now.

Sean Daily: And, you know, I know that the US has certainly moved
ahead with its deployment of solar and its embracement of solar PV
technologies, but we’re still lagging behind places like Germany and
Japan. What are we not doing that places like Germany and Japan are
doing? ‘Cause I don’t think that Germany’s necessarily a lot sunnier
than most of the US, I don’t think it’s that, so can you kind of maybe
shed some light on that?

Dan Thompson: Yeah, there’s, I think the short answer for that is
it’s really policy. It’s the utilities, incentives, a lot of the
countries you just named work off of a national feed and tariff.
Basically what that means is any PV system that you construct, whether
it’s on your own property or you lease it and you tie it directly into
the utility grid, they will pay you a fixed price per kilowatt hour of
generation, and that’s a very simple straightforward process by which
you can develop and install PV systems here in the US. Every town,
utility, state is different, and it’s a little harder to navigate
through it, so we just don’t quite have that type of policy yet in the
US.

Sean Daily: So I take it then that California’s ahead of the game
with regards to solar and the incentives around it, deploying solar in
homes and businesses?

Dan Thompson: Yeah, that’s true. One of the key incentives are
really from the utilities, which is net metering, allows you to
interconnect the solar system on your home or business and tie it
directly into the grid, and when you’re not using all the energy your
producing it literally runs your meter backwards and you get credit for
that in the dollar value that you can use at night or during winter
months when you’re not producing as much energy, and that tied along
with rate payer incentives through the utilities and some state tax
credits that we’ve had, we’ve seen those kind of move away. And
currently the federal investment tax credits, which are due to expire
at the end of ’08, just haven’t had a tremendous amount of success
getting those extended, however it’s, we’re still working on it.

Sean Daily: Mm hmm. So what is the climate like for your average
homeowner or business owner? Well lets start with the homeowners. What
is the climate like right now, financially speaking, to do a solar PV
deployment in the home? I mean is it a good time to do it?

Dan Thompson: Yeah, it’s, you know, every year the incentives and
the reasons for going solar have moved around a little bit, but each
year there seems to be a very, a very good strong climate to do it.
Best of all, and I have it on my own home, is I don’t have an energy
bill, an electrical energy bill. At the end of the year it trues up, so
I’ve hatched against the increase in electricity over the 5 ½ years
I’ve had a solar system installed. The incentives, again, they do
change a little bit, but they’re exempt from property taxes. There’s a
whole list of reasons why going solar’s a good idea.

Sean Daily: Yeah. Well I have to agree with you, and in full
disclaimer, I have a solar PV system on my house and also Green Talk
Radio, greenlivingideas.com is solar powered, this podcast is solar
powered, and it’s great because literally that’s the fantasy, right, of
solar PV is to spin the meters backwards or any, you know, self
generated energy, is to be able to spin the meters backwards and defeat
the massive whopping energy bills that we all get every month. Is it
really that, but I know in our case it was, I mean, it was like, you
know, it was that initial nudging crack of, you know, paying the
upfront costs of the system. What’s the story there right now? I mean,
is that, is that getting better, are the costs going down, where are we
on, in terms of that?

Dan Thompson: Well I have two parts to that question, probably two
answers. One is the, for instance, when I’m at work my solar system
right now and I’m putting juice out on the grid and I’m really kind of
supplying my neighbors with electricity that they pay me for. The cost
of solar isn’t necessarily going directly down, the cost of energy’s
going up, unfortunately it drives a lot of costs of fuel and
commodities and things like that, you know. What was the second part of
your question? I’m sorry.

Sean Daily: I think it was just in terms of the costs, going…

Dan Thompson: Oh yeah.

Sean Daily: where are they going or the solar panel costs.

Dan Thompson: Right, and there’s a number of financing vehicles out
there now from leases, second lines of credit, and the interest rate is
such that the ply, usually what happens is your loan payment is less
than your electricity payment would’ve been in almost all cases. So
it’s kind of a do you want to rent or own type of situation. Again,
there are some options where you don’t have to pay any money upfront,
especially when you get into larger business and commercial
applications. But this is one of the areas where policy and containing
the federal tax incentives for the entire nation help make this, help
make this doable for everybody on the front end, so you don’t have to
put, you know, so much down if anything.

Sean Daily: Right, now, and you talked about policy earlier and that
being really an important driving issue behind this. I mean how exactly
does the policy impact the standards here?

Dan Thompson: Well you, every utility has its own rate structure,
some are a little more favorable to solar than others. We continue to
work, I’ve worked within the Calcia and some of the PV trade alliances,
Public Utility Commission, California Energy Commission and others, to
help them understand what works for solar and what doesn’t. Sometimes
when they get, they drift off a little bit and we’ve been successful in
keeping it lined up, but the, it does vary utility by utility, and some
areas, like down in the Bay area we don’t have necessarily large air
conditioning demands, but it you’re in the Central Valley or the North
Valley or many other places in the US, that’s a big part of your load.
So your systems have to be designed for the home, for the business that
they’re going to serve, and also you have to pay attention to what kind
of rate schedules you have and how those incentives apply to you
individually.

Sean Daily: I’m curious too about the availability of qualified
installers for, now I think that SPG Solar, if I’m not mistaken,
employs its own staff of installers. Is that correct or are you working
with outside contractors?

Dan Thompson: By and large, we install all of our own systems. We
currently, we have about 175 employees with nine facilities in
California and now in Oregon and Arizona and we continue to grow that
staff. There are cases on large commercial projects where we will hire
a firm to do several grading work or perhaps drilling and concrete
work. I don’t own a D-10 Caterpillar, so I subcontract that work out
and various others, but we do manage and develop all our own projects,
we don’t flow contracts out to other people and say, “You take care of
it.”

Sean Daily: Do you think on a nationwide level that that’s a factor
at all? I’m just curious, you know, if the availability of qualified
folks, because, you know, it always comes down to distribution, I look
at any industry, whether it’s, you know, technology products or widgets
or what have you, it seems like it’s always about the folks who are in
the trenches sort of pushing the technology and saying, “Hey, I can do
this for you. I’ve done it before. I know”, and they’re the ones who
are really, you know, proliferating a technology. Is that, do you think
that that’s happening nationwide or is that related in any way to lack
of deployment?

Dan Thompson: Well I think certainly in California because this is
really where it got started in large a way. There’s other states such
as New Jersey and Colorado and a host of others including Oregon and
Arizona, where the markets now have policy that make it a suitable
market for people to start up businesses or grow their businesses, and
the training that’s available, California has some new programs for
real apprenticeships, so that you can, you can actually go to courses
for a period of time and get skilled, not to mention Napsep
certifications, certified electrician requirements and a host of
others, so there’s more and more formal training and it’s taken a
number of years to get there. But I think for the other states that are
emerging with suitable markets. The curve, the learning curve is going
to be much shorter, but they’re still a little behind just because the
market wasn’t ready there in their particular area, but I think it’s
going to wrap up quickly and there’s a lot more available certainly
online and just in the market in general, solar and alternative and
renewable energy. You can see something everyday about it, whether
you’re looking in your local paper or you’re watching the news or
whatever. So I think it’s going to, the growth rate is going to be
tremendous.

Sean Daily: Okay, great. Well we’re going to be right back with Dan
Thompson, who’s the founder, president and CEO of SPG Solar. We’re
talking about the current state of the solar industry and getting solar
installed for your home or business. This is Green Talk Radio, Sean
Daily, we’ll be right back.

Sean Daily: Okay, we’re back on Green Talk Radio. This is Sean
Daily. I have with me Dan Thompson who’s the founder, president and CEO
of SPG Solar. You can find them online at spgsolar.com, and we’re
talking about the current state of the solar industry, and Dan before
the break we were just talking about some of the underpinnings of the
technology, the political issues and such, and that facilitate or not
the deployment and the incentives for deployment in homes and
businesses. One of the fascinating things a lot of people don’t realize
is that there are other technologies for which sustain, or renewable
energies like solar are the underpinning or enabler. Example, electric
cars, people think electric cars are really green. Well electric cars
are not green unless the energy for which you’re charging the electric
car is green, and if you’re getting it from coal based fuel, a coal
based fuel source, that’s not a green car. The car may be, but it’s
really what’s going on behind it, so can you talk to us a little bit
about how solar ties into these other green or renewable products and
services out there?

Dan Thompson: Well I love the story of the electric car, I’ve used
that as an example. I did a little bit of research on what the, what it
would take to charge my car if I had an electric car overnight. I
currently have a five kilowatt system on my house, it takes care of all
my energy needs on a net meter basis. It’s not kilowatt per kilowatt. I
sell it at 31 cents a kilowatt hour during the day, noon to six, Monday
through Friday, May through October. After pique hours, holidays and
weekends I only pay 8 ½ cents a kilowatt hour. So one of the key things
is how utility rates work within the design installation of a solar
system when you have incentives, net metering and these different
tools. It’s very important that the companies you work with understand
this and most people do. Now if I have an electric car I figured I
would only have to add six solar panels, which would be about another
kilowatt to my solar system to pay for fueling my car and charging it
every night if necessary, and when you back that out I’m probably
looking at the equivalent of something along 50 cents a gallon if I
were to try to translate that over for fuel for the mileage I would
receive and the cost. Again, I just charged at home, I wouldn’t have to
go to the, wouldn’t have to go to the gas station, it would be net
meter to my current bill and kind of wash. It’ll be a little different
for everybody, but I love that scenario.

Sean Daily: Yeah, yeah, they’re, I mean they’re very connected and
it’s, I think it’s just important that people see the connection
between all these uses, and I, and also in terms of capacity planning,
making sure that you’re taking into account the future, if you’re going
to something like an electric car the availability ramps up or
motorcycle  or scooter, whatever it might be, or other things like
this, or for example, maybe, you know, starting a business in your home
or anything where you’re expanding you have to do the correct capacity
planning, so definitely important to take into consideration whey
you’re looking at how many panels you’re putting on your roof.

Dan Thompson: Right, right.

Sean Daily: Yeah, and the other thing that you mentioned too and I
think that’s important, and this may just be limited to California, but
I’ll talk about it as a user of the technology, it was a little, it was
a little odd at first, it was a little change for us to be treated kind
of like a mini power company, but it’s actually kind of cool. My wife
and I really enjoy it ‘cause we do, as you mentioned, the true up at
the end of the year where we pay basically, really we only once during
the year and it’s a true up of the net, you know, of the all the
credits and debits as it were that happened throughout the year with
what we put back onto the grid versus what we take out, and we just had
that happen for the first time just a couple months ago and we were
just blown away by I mean how little it cost, I mean it was literally,
you know, a couple of pennies a day for the entire year and it was just
amazing, and it was much more convenient for us to deal with it that
way and the paperwork was pretty straightforward, our installer helped
us with that back when we originally installed it, so it’s a little bit
different but it’s really cool and it’s actually, I would say, it’s
less work and less paperwork in the long run, at least from my
experience.

Dan Thompson: Oh yeah, and that meter is an amazing tool and I love
the true up myself. I’m usually within $10 dollars debit or credit at
the end of the year and that’s less than one solar panel, so we hit it
right on the head. If your consumption patterns changed dramatically,
for instance I don’t have kids at home, they’re grown, but if you got
kids at home during the summer and have the TV on and the stereo going
and the air conditioner running and the doors are open and they’re
running inside and out, you’re going to have a problem because you’re
going to use a lot of peak energy. In a case like myself where I’m at
work, it’s pretty dormant, got the aquarium going and, you know,
cycling some parasitic loads for charges and things but that’s all
that’s going on, so I get full credit during those hours.

Sean Daily: Yeah, great. Well I’m curious too about, can you tell us
a little bit, maybe talk switching gears a little bit about the future
of these technologies, solar PV technologies. What kind of new
technologies are solar intergraters looking at right now?

Dan Thompson: Well this is the exciting part. There’s so much work
going on. There’s a lot of programs that are funded to some degree, but
it’s basically driven by the private market to get in and develop these
new technologies. Thin Film Technology, which has been around for a
while but was, had a rebirth due to the silicon shortages. Of course,
ramping up for silicon refineries has been taking place and we’re
seeing more capacity come on line. That will also result in a more
competitive silicon market, which is what about 90 percent of the
product out there is today, but there is also high concentrating PV
modules that may be a 500 to 1 concentration using a lot less of the
collection material and capturing the light, and there’s low
concentrating collectors that may be a 3 to 1. Different technology,
same principle, Thin Film again, some Amorphis Junction, so a lot of
different technologies getting ready to be productized. I think by the
end of ’08 and certainly in the beginning of ’09, we should see some
market ready innovations coming out and hopefully within the next, you
know, couple years we’re going to see the prices start to drop off. And
again, that’s just one of the compelling reasons why policy and a
certain type of, you know, hopefully national investment credits for a
period of time are so important, ‘cause the investment community has
put just gobs of money into this, we all see it. We have to do
something and solar’s just a portion of it, but it is the one
technology that everybody can take advantage of, whether you’re a
homeowner or a business, it’s, you can be, as you pointed out, you can
be your own power plant. And it is rewarding to see the meter go
backwards and to net out your bill at the end of the day.

Sean Daily: Assuming you’re a person who’s fortunate enough or a
business who’s fortunate enough to be able to qualify based on the
availability of sun in your area and your roof pitch and all these
other things that go into the site analysis and making the
determination of qualification for solar, you know, in any scenario
we’ve seen the biggest hold back with regards to cost, so, and that’s
the, you know, the rap that, I should say the rap that solar has gotten
by, from some people and I don’t know whether it’s justified or not,
but certainly the cost has been one of the things that detractors have
pointed to. How are installers and integrators working together to
bring the costs of solar down for the average Joe?

Dan Thompson: Well that’s a good question and it’s, we all kind of
want to look to the solar technology itself, and the common words that
come out of everybody’s mouth is, “If the panels were cheaper then we
could afford it”. However, that would make it more affordable but it
takes a little time and different technology that’s taking place in a
big way right now. The other side of it is it’s what we all have to
deal with, and that’s basically inflation, cost of living, I mean oil
just hit $1.27, $127 a barrel, and you know, I’m looking at it drives
everything, it drives mining processes, commodity prices, steel,
aluminum, copper, all those fundamentals that go into construction of
anything, in particular our industry, in the field, to drive around, to
do this and conduct business.  So while we’re trying to maintain at
least the same price and drop it, margins are getting squeezed at the
integrator level and that’s a fact. We can’t, we don’t have the luxury
of raising the prices just to cover increased costs because we’re
competing against the cost of energy and as energy gets more expensive
we’ll see it on the other end where now the PV makes sense again, and
it could be from month to month. You know, one month it looks good and
then, I mean a year ago we were paying $60 dollars a barrel for oil,
and so…

Sean Daily: Right, yeah. It’s amazing.

Dan Thompson: Yeah, and people ask me, “Well what is the cost going
to be five years from now?”, and if you could tell me what the cost of
a gallon of gas is going to be five years from now I could probably
give you a pretty good bead on where this is going, but I don’t know. I
don’t think it’s going down, that I feel pretty confident about.

Sean Daily: Yeah, it would certainly seem that that would be the
case, it would be hard to imagine, and if it did, it would be sort of
more of a fluctuation than any sort of long-term reversing of a trend.

Dan Thompson: Right.

Sean Daily: So yeah, go ahead.

Dan Thompson: And supply and demand has always been the great
equalizer. We’ll see more supply of PV products, we’ll see the demand
continue to rise, and we’ll see some really economies of scale show up
and integration companies, and you have to be local, you’re still in
the construction business, so that was why I was commenting on we’re
going to need a lot of people to make this cost effective at the local
levels where customers they serve reside.

Sean Daily: Yeah. And, you know, just, this is sort of an aside to
this topic, but, or tangent, but one of the things that I haven’t heard
people talk about is, you know, wrapping these types of projects, like
a solar PV installation, into a refinance ‘cause a lot of people, you
know, do remodels and end up refinancing their homes as a result of
that, and we found in our case that it was a great time for us to do
that, and I encourage more people to look at that, especially with
rates as low as they are right now, although lenders are definitely not
getting out money the way they used to because of what’s happened in
the credit market and the mortgage market and the housing market, but,
you know, if you have that opportunity it’s certainly something to look
at.

Dan Thompson: Well and that’s something that we’ve thought about in
this market right now. A lot of the institutional banks and so on are
having to reduce their exposure. If there’s a line of credit out there
for $200,000 dollars that you’re not using, that’s as good as money
being loaned, they have to account for it that way. So you’re better
off and a lot easier to refinance anew first, have just one bank in
there at the lower rate as an owner occupied dwelling, you’re going to
get a better rate and better return and eliminate your electric bill in
a lot of cases.

Sean Daily: Dan, what do you guys say to people when they say,
“Well, you know, okay I’m looking at doing this, but how long should I
be in this house to really make this effective from just looking at it
from an ROI standpoint?”

Dan Thompson: Well, a quick story. The appraisers guys for real
estate in California have a section in there on energy efficiency
things and for every dollar you save in energy this real estate
appraisers guy appraises that apparatus, whatever it is, at $20
dollars. And so the example is in my home I spent $43,000 dollars for a
five kilowatt system, the incentives were about $20,000 dollars, so I
spent $23,000 dollars, I offset a $2,000 dollar a year electric bill,
that’s post taxes, basically had to earn about $3,000 dollars a year to
have $2,000 to pay my utility bill. When I refinanced my home that
system was appraised at $42,000 dollars. Now mind you, I only paid
$23,000 for it, and I don’t have an electric bill, and today that
electric bill would be closer to $3,000 dollars, this is 5 ½ years
later, and I would have to earn over $4,000 dollars a year in wages in
order to pay that bill because I can’t deduct it on my home. So as long
as I can afford to have it in equity, like you said, with a refinance
or a second, it’s going to be a lot less expensive than my energy bill
and it’s not going to go up…

Sean Daily: Right.

Dan Thompson: It’s going to stay the same. So I came out, I was
$20,000 ahead the day I put it on roof or on the ground, mine happens
to be on the ground. So there’s several ways to look at it, and if you,
and my house got appraised with the refinance at that value in there.
So there’s, I see the value the day you pull the trigger, there’s
equity and value in this.

Sean Daily: Yeah. And, you know, another thing that’s interesting
too is people tend to think about it as an all or nothing proposition,
but you can do a partial, ‘cause anything is better if you’re feeding
back into the grid and lowering your power bill. You know, it doesn’t
have to be a hundred percent, I mean even if you went into fifty or
seventy-five percent, you know, and in places where you might have wind
and sun, you can start combining these technologies. I mean, there’s
not limitation to the possibilities here.

Dan Thompson: Right, in California now that we’re on this tiered
system, but when you get up to tier five you definitely don’t want to
be there. You can be paying a combined rate of up to 48 cents a
kilowatt hour, which is huge…

Sean Daily: I’ve been in that tier by the way right before we
deployed our system, and it was very painful, it was hard. We were
close to $1,000 dollars a month in power bills. It was…

Dan Thompson: Yeah.

Sean Daily: it was brutal. So…

Dan Thompson: Yeah, I’m with you.

Sean Daily: So, well we’re going to take another last break here,
and we’ll be right back talking with Dan Thompson, who is the founder,
president and CEO of SPG Solar. They’re a solar installer here in the,
on the west coast of the United States. We’ll be right back on Green
Talk Radio.

Sean Daily: This is Sean Daily. We’re back on Green Talk Radio
talking on solar PV energy with Dan Thompson, who’s the founder,
president and CEO of SPG Solar in Nevato California, not too far from
us actually, about 20 minutes down road. Dan, so we were talking on the
specifics of the financial side of the installations and things like
that, but I wanted just sort of take a step back for a second and ask
you a question about, you know, is there a separation here between the
energy efficiency markets and the energy production markets with
regards to solar?

Dan Thompson: Yeah, that’s a good question Sean. Our opinion, in my
background I spent 20 years in the electrical industry building. We did
a lot of work in energy efficiency, and currently that is the most cost
effective way to reduce anybody’s energy bill, doesn’t matter who you
are or where you live. However, in the technologies that we’re dealing
with such as, you know, wind, solar and others, we’re primarily driven
to create more energy through renewable or alternative energy methods.
But in the real world when you get down to it, we have a tagline here
called ‘Reduce, then produce’. I believe wholeheartedly that any
building, homes are a little bit more difficult to do because it is
your home and you have certain things that you like to do, but in a
business situation going through and doing energy audits and looking at
energy efficiency measures will ultimately reduce the size of the solar
system, sometimes significantly, and then lowering the cost of
eliminating or substantially reducing your electric bill, so energy
efficiency from insulation to lighting to switching and variable
frequency drives and all kinds of other apparatus, are absolutely the
best investment up front. We like to bundle that with a production
model too, so we’re able to give that analysis to individual clients
and see if that works for them. But, yeah, that’s the best way to go to
begin with, and then look at producing your own energy.

Sean Daily: You know, I’m really glad you brought that point up too
because you reminded me of something that that was what our installer
told us when they first met with us is that, “Listen, I could sell you,
I could look at your capacity and sell you a huge system that’s going
to match your current capacity and usage, but that’s not going to make
sense because the first thing I want to do is help you with your usage
and reducing it, being energy efficient and that’s the first place you
should start”, and so we actually employed, and we just changed the way
we started thinking, and we reduced our energy bill by 40 percent just
based on efficiency, and it’s not like, we’re not living in the dark or
the cold or the heat or the…

Dan Thompson: Right.

Sean Daily: You know, we didn’t ruin our way of life, we just got
smarted and started thinking and woke up a little bit, and we literally
reduced that bill. So that then, you know, changed the capacity we were
building for by 40 percent, which has a direct and very significant
translation to what’s being spent on the system, so I’m really glad you
said that ‘cause I think that’s a very important point.

Dan Thompson: No, that’s absolutely true, and you know, living in
California we’ve seen the water shortages and everything, and when
people say you need to conserve anything, the first thing we think of
is, “Oh, what am I going to have to do without?”, and that’s not
necessarily true. You made a very good point. It’s, sometimes it’s just
the way we think and it’s everything from all the little tips that we
hear, but they work and they work quite well. And matter of fact
yesterday we were here, we hit 100 degrees here in Navato yesterday,
and at 3 o’clock I told some co-workers in the morning, I said, you
know, the independent system operators that order up the megawatts for
demand in California through these utilities is probably not prepared
for this ‘cause it came on pretty quickly…

Sean Daily: Mm hmm.

Dan Thompson: but sure enough we had a blackout in our whole business park at 3:30 in the afternoon…

Sean Daily: Wow!

Dan Thompson: and everything dumped, and we were just talking about
this, so it’s again, it’s another indication that, you know, we’re not
immune, and I had been turning off stuff all day long just to try to do
my part around here, but when it gets push comes to shove, you know,
we’re going to have to conserve it or we’re going to lose it.

Sean Daily: Yeah.

Dan Thompson: And it’s going to take everybody, everybody needs to be involved.

Sean Daily: Right, no man is an island, nor any business or family.

Dan Thompson: Correct.

Sean Daily: So one last question for you; what would you say, we
talked a little bit earlier about, you know, trying to forecast the
future and the difficulty inherent in that, but let me see if I can ask
you this, what is the current climate of this industry and where, if
you can, would you forecast at least the solar industry to be in five
or even ten years?

Dan Thompson: Yeah, I get asked this quite a bit. There’s not really
a solid answer. The one thing I am convinced, it started with this
business about 7 ½ years ago, in 2001 March, 2 weeks after I started
the dot bomb hit…

Sean Daily: Mm hmm.

Dan Thompson: and the market started to crash. Six months after that
we had 9/11. And I never stopped looking at what we were doing and
where we were going and just kept showing up, and I think that this
industry is going to be explosive. In fact, the growth is almost
incomprehensible in my opinion of where this is going to go, through
necessity, through cost savings, just through financial incentives or,
and just good common sense, and I don’t think we even have, we’re even
ready for it. But our company has grown tremendously over the years and
we’re just one group and there’s hundreds if not thousands of groups
pursuing and there’s going to need to be thousands more. And I think
this industry in the US is, this is one of the markets that everybody
on the globe is looking at as the potential solar market to drive
business and investment for many, many years to come.

Sean Daily: Yeah, and California really is a microcosm for this
industry and for a lot of things, and it’s sort of an incubation tank
as it were that the rest of the country tends to look at in terms of,
well how’d that go in California, in paving the way, and so, you know,
I know that SPG has been a huge part of that, one of the larger
installers in the state in really driving and promoting these
technologies, and I make no bones about the fact that I’m a huge
proponent of solar as well as other technologies, but I really love
solar, and…

Dan Thompson: Right.

Sean Daily: I put my money where my mouth is, so, you know, we wish
you much success with SPG Solar, certainly wishing the industry
success, it’s a viable technology. Personally I’m hoping that the
advancements, the infusion of cash into Silicon Valley and from Silicon
Valley and other places is going to, you know, help accelerate and
maybe we’ll get some Moors law things that happened in tech to happen
in solar so that we can, you know, see even greater technologies and
efficiencies in the future.

Dan Thompson: Well it’s been a pleasure, and we’re also looking forward to just a tremendously bright future in this industry.

Sean Daily: Right. Well we would love to have you back in the future
to continue talking to us about the current state of the industry,
things, new technologies and things like that and keeping our listeners
updated if you’d be willing to come back.

Dan Thompson: Absolutely, my door’s open.

Sean Daily: Great. Well Dan Thompson has been my guest today. He is
the founder, president and CEO of SPG Solar. You can find them online
at spgsolar.com or www.spgsolar.com. Dan thanks again.

Dan Thompson: Thank you Sean.

Sean Daily: And thank you to everyone out there listening in today on Green Talk Radio. We’ll see you next time.

Sean Daily: Thanks as always to everyone listening in today.
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