Video: Marketing Solar Energy to the Public Remains a Challenge

As the solar industry grows, marketing and public outreach are set to become a larger part of the day-to-day operations of installers, integrators, manufacturers and trade associations. Solar Energy Industries Association president Rhone Resch identified it as a major hurdle moving forward.

“The biggest challenge we face is educating people about the true costs of solar energy,” Resch told last month at PV America in Philadelphia.

He said solar companies need to make the case that a solar system can be easily integrated into other financing arrangements, like a mortgage. It will make the mortgage payments a bit higher, but with incentives, the system starts generating revenue from day one. Those incentives also allow the consumers to defer up to two-thrids of the overall cost.

According to columnist Isabelle Christensen, the cost of marketing per solar sale is between US $1100 and $2500 for national-scale companies. She says those are figures that may not be sustainable in the long term.

So how does the industry make this case without spending more money than it can afford to? That’s the question that everyone seems to be grappling with. I caught up with a number of industry leaders to get their thoughts on the issue.

Jim Pierobon, vice president and chief marketing officer at Standard Solar said his company reaches out to local governments, condo associations, schools and everyone in between to get them up to speed on what’s available right now.

Joe Sarubbi, executive director of TEC-SMART at Hudson Valley Community College told me about the role community colleges will play as the industry moves forward.

Mark Finocchario, CEO of Schott Solar USA and Stephen Shea, VP of manufacturing for Suniva said manufacturers won’t sit on the sidelines.

Finally JoAnn Milliken, Acting Solar Program Manager at DOE said the stimulus funds the industry is waiting for could be part of the solution.

Play the video below to hear more about what these companies are doing to address the marketing and outreach challenges.

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Former Editor at, now Assistant Counsel at the New York State Department of Public Service, regulating New York's electricity, gas, and telecommunications industries.

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