The Solar Industry Waves Goodbye To One of Its Biggest Advocates

I was saddened to hear the news that Larry Hagman, the former star of the hit TV show “Dallas” had died over the weekend.  Hagman, whom I interviewed in 2010 at Intersolar North America, was a great solar advocate. He told me that his decision to install solar on his ranch in California came shortly after the great blackout of 2003. Originating in Ohio, the outage caused half of the eastern seaboard to lose power for as many as 3 days.  Hagman went solar after that event, reducing his utility bill from more than $37,000 a year to $13, he told me.

SolarWorld, the company for whom he made ten television commercials released a statement paying tribute to him for his work as an American solar energy advocate. “I have nothing more to do with oil. I am producing my own energy…Solar energy,” Hagman proclaimed in one of the television spots he made for SolarWorld. With the slogan “Shine, Baby, Shine!” Hagman played off the oil industry’s rally call, “Drill, baby, drill,” to promote solar technology.

“We are grateful to Larry Hagman for his commitment to building a solar world,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas in Camarillo, Calif. “His charisma and example encouraged thousands of people to go solar. We will miss him, but we will always remember his talent and his dedication to the promise of solar energy.”

Hagman’s work with SolarWorld was a result of his connection to the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), and its executive director Bob Freling. Freling invited Hagman to sit on the SELF board in 1999 and encouraged him to go solar in 2003. Over the years Freling and Hagman worked on several philanthropic solar projects together, including the electrification of hospitals in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Hagman and Freling to discuss SELF’s work in Haiti.  The video is below.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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