After 22 years as the head of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), I step down as the organization’s president and CEO not with a retirement announcement; just a change I make with confidence and emotion. It’s a bittersweet decision.
A steady and proven hand will be taking the helm. Larry Sherwood has earned a strong national reputation in the renewable energy community. He has led a number of organizations, including the American Solar Energy Society, the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards, and the Small Wind Certification Council. Larry is known and respected by many. IREC will be in excellent hands.
With over two decades at IREC and more than three decades in the renewable energy sector, I’m tempted to write a rear-view mirror piece. With plenty of stories, successes and failures, it’s been quite a ride to be part of the transformation from Birkenstocks to blue suits and from patronizing head pats to political protagonists. Inch-by-inch progress is sometimes painfully slow for us impatient foot tappers, but building solid policies, best practices and actions pay off. Blowtorch strategies can have negligible impact. Net metering is a case in point. It’s become a donnybrook ending with mixed messages, dueling directions and a patchwork of policies.
Embedding quality assurances into the clean energy sector has been on my top 10 hit parade for years. No apologies if it sounds like a broken-record. The value and criticality of credentialing is a sensible and verifiable way of assuring competency and quality.
Consumer protection is really market protection. Tales of poor workmanship and products and oily sales tactics can race through social media faster than the speed of light. If current credentialing schemes aren’t working as well as they should or aren’t gaining the traction needed, then let’s fix but not discard them. Let’s make sure that accountability and protective measures for consumers are ingrained in the clean energy consciousness and routines. The cost of not doing so is high.
Any chance we can break down the constricting silos we bump into in the clean energy sector? The silo factor blockades vision and minimizes influence. The way energy policy is formed and functions is primarily state-by-state. Door-to-door is costly, limiting seat time at the table. It is why efforts restrained by the one technology at-a-time approach limits effect. Government offices, trade associations, funding streams, and even conferences built around a single technology rather than a pooled sector strategy shortchanges collective might. That’s a shame. All hands need to be on one deck for top-billed issues such as rate design, grid modernization, and fair compensation and interconnection of distributed resources.
What I’ve been most proud of is IREC’s cultural underpinning that not only zeroes in on challenges, but devises practical and thoughtful ways of solving them. We’ve combined analysis with street smarts, which gives us navigable lanes for easy hook-up and consumer access to the grid; opening the market for more customers through shared installations; responsive and on-time workforce assessments by way of micro credentials; reaching out to allied industries and outlying stakeholders; and lending a helping hand for consumers, with road signs and checklists.
My typical 5:00am start of the day was never a chore. How lucky I’ve been to thoroughly enjoy what I do and the people I’ve gotten to know as inspiring colleagues and dear friends. I consider the IREC team and directors my heroes. My gratitude runs deep. I am touched by your influence every day. I embrace what you’ve taught me. Thank you.
So I’m off for a while searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt but will see you soon.
Image Copyright: michaklootwijk / 123RF Stock Photo