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Russell Kovacevich—Planet Solar Inc.’s Vice President– Business Development

Santa Barbara, California

July 16, 2012


Russell Kovacevich—Planet Solar Inc.’s Vice President– Business Development


Planet Solar, one of the fastest growing solar installation companies in the United States, is pleased to welcome their newest team addition – Russell Kovacevich. This past May, Ben Siebert – CEO of Planet Solar – announced Kovacevich as Vice President of Business Development.  Kovacevich will be working out of Planet Solar’s Santa Barbara office as well as the company’s new Palm Desert office and is pleased to be lending his expertise in the areas of Business Development and Operations Management.


Kovacevich has a comprehensive background in Business Development, Technical and Sales Management, as well as General Management of both public and private companies. He has managed a variety of business enterprises in diverse industries. These industries include wine and food production and packaging, plastics manufacturing, electro-mechanical device manufacturing, medical devices manufacturing, and food and beverage pumping system manufacturing. His most recent work has focused on green industries, including:  solar, wind, batteries and new innovative energy storage technologies.


Kovacevich earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Sciences as well as supplementary graduate studies in Health Sciences at San Jose State. He remains current by regularly attending seminars and courses on management and technical topics.


Planet Solar is pleased to have such a qualified and enthusiastic employee on board to further the success of Planet Solar!


Planet Solar Installation and Design


Ben Siebert


719 East Haley Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93103

(805) 692-2700




Planet Solar sees a bright future in the Coachella Valley

The arrival of a new solar energy company in the Coachella Valley invariably adds to the region’s profile as a hub for renewable energy and solar market.

In the case of Planet Solar, CEO Ben Siebert decided to move his five-year-old solar installation company from Santa Barbara to Palm Desert for two reasons — the weather and business, in that order.

“It’s cold,” Siebert said of the coastal city. “Who’s got a pool? No one has air conditioning. Without air conditioning and pools, there are no high electric bills. That’s what we’re about.”

Sun and high electric bills the valley has in abundance, along with what Siebert sees as a central location for expanding the company into sunbelt markets in Arizona and the east valley, where he hopes to go after agricultural businesses.

“We fit in very well with farms,” he said.

Siebert also ensured Planet Solar would hit the ground running by hiring two of the valley’s top solar energy professionals, Kirk and Jill Weiss, the couple who for six years worked at Solar Distributors, the valley’s oldest solar installer.

Kirk Weiss is now Planet Solar’s regional sales manager, and Jill Weiss is regional sales consultant.

The Weisses crossed paths with Siebert as he began his research on the local market, and a friendly drink turned into a five-hour conversation and eventually a business offer.

“Best blind date ever,” Jill Weiss joked.

The couple also toured Planet Solar installations in Santa Barbara and were impressed with the quality of the company’s work, she said.

The firm has a good track record in Santa Barbara with home and commercial installations, as well affordable housing. It worked with the County of Santa Barbara in 2011 to put solar panels on 863 units of affordable housing.

While the company is keeping its staff small at this point, Siebert and the Weisses hope to add as many as 40 jobs, for sales and installation, as the business grows.

Kirk Weiss said he will connect with College of the Desert’s solar training program for potential employees.

Home installations will continue to be the company’s bread and butter, he said, but it will also pursue bigger projects.

Siebert himself has almost 30 years in energy industry, helping out at his father’s construction business from an early age and installing his first solar panels in 1983.

He also spent a few years in Latin America, living off the grid, relying entirely on solar and wind power for electricity.

“I know how to build things; I know how to conserve,” he said.

Siebert sees the current upheavals in the industry as ultimately benefiting installers and solar customers because weaker companies are being winnowed out. Planet Solar buys from several different panel manufacturers, depending on the job, he said.

“We tend to use tried and true (panels),” he said. “Our systems always overproduce.”

Looking forward, Siebert sees continuing tension between utility-scale projects and smaller roof-top projects.

Rooftop alone will not ensure that California reaches its goal of producing 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020, he said, but utility-scale is inefficient, losing power in the transmission process, he said.

Like most solar installers, when all is said and done, he’s a rooftop advocate.

“Distributed is the way to go,” he said, referring to rooftop and smaller solar installations that produce power that can be used locally.

And as photovoltaic panel prices continue to fall, Siebert expects the rooftop markets, home and commercial, to remain strong.

“PV is just too great a value to ignore,” he said.

K Kaufmann covers energy and green technology and health care for The Desert Sun. She can be reached atk.kaufmann@thedesertsun.com or (760) 778-4622. Follow on Twitter @kkaufmann.