Have you ever been directly involved in something that provided you a tremendous satisfaction while at the same time caused you significant turmoil? Most of us have experienced such times in our life, although I believe that many of these types of occurrences are somewhat mild overall. In this discussion however, I am referring to a major impact on our wellbeing and sense of satisfaction. I have such a situation as I write this. As many of you know, I have been personally involved in the solar industry since late 2007. My involvement has been at the end user or private consumer level. As revealed in great detail in my book “Solar Integrity” this industry is facing some dramatic challenges in the near future. These pending issues are wide spread and potentially hazardous to the popularity of solar in the public eye. As disturbing as this realization is to me in general, I wish to share a version of my private exposures that are a source of personal discomfort to me specifically. In fact, so upsetting are these realities that I am currently questioning my continued involvement in the solar industry in a physically direct manner. These are unforeseen by-products that have manifested themselves via human behavior that is extremely discouraging. As shown throughout my book, the functionality of solar photovoltaic products is typically good. When the basic technology is applied with a foundation of integrity and competency by all who participate, the result is nearly always very satisfactory for everyone involved in the transaction. Within my experiences of the solar industry for approximately 7 years, that has encompassed a geographical area in California of hundreds of miles, I have had more personal encounters with clients, suppliers and public support personnel than I can recall. With all of these individual encounters, the relationships between myself and these various groups have produced drastic differences. As difficult as it may be to believe, I do not recall one dissatisfied client. My company has performed hundreds of installations and my clients are always happy with me and my service. Next; throughout my involvement with multiple supply companies and many different types and brands of products, some are great, others are okay and there have been a few that are just plain bad. Although I do not ever wish to provide a component to any of my clients that eventually shows a functionality problem, it has happened. This was nearly always due to a technology that was relatively new and had not completely worked out all the bugs. These days I simply do not use any technology that is not well established and has shown very reliable performance in “real life” applications. Additionally I require a minimum of 5 years before I make any determinations toward a products’ reputation and reliability.
So by now you have likely figured out that my troubles have presented themselves within the support arenas. Encompassed in these areas we primarily find the methods of acquisition or simply put, the financing mechanisms and we also find the public institutions that play a big role in the installation of solar components on private property. This sector consists of Local Planning and Building Departments, State and Local Codes, Fire Departments etc. As mentioned in my book, the rise and fall of the recent housing market created a situation of extreme change and, in many cases, internal drama within many of these public entities. Throughout my several decades of self-employment I have engaged countless public entities with only an occasional minor conflict; that is until recently. The newness of the solar industry in this country has revealed a very widespread lack of knowledge. I can tell you that when some individuals who possess a title of authority are faced with the realization that they know less than the installer whom they are supposedly inspecting, a real discomfort arises in many cases. Now, factor in a diminished professional experience of security because of recent times and a much more negative approach to their job is prevalent. As is the case in a few of my personal experiences, should you also encounter a public employee who has a personal issue with ego and dominance, the competitive nature of that individual becomes an overwhelming factor, thus rendering any proper rational behavior subordinate to their own personal priorities. As the solar industry has quickly developed into a bubble of opportunity that is full of incompetency’s and insincerities by many who participate, these types of attitudes have manifested themselves into an increasing rate of frequency that is very dangerous to the future of this industry. Personally I do not do well in a common involvement that has my counterpart revealing a severe lack of integrity. To compound this detrimental experience, I have found some of these individuals in a position of exclusive authority while drawing a public paycheck. At this point some of you may consider me to be naïve. This may be so to some degree, however, in all my years of self-employment along with thirty-five years of experience in direct relationships with thousands of people professionally speaking, I can honestly say that not until I engaged myself in the solar industry during the past seven years have I ever encountered such repetitive and troubling human behavior. I promote the usage of solar products in the private sector primarily because of the choice and freedoms they can provide. Within the confines of the products and my clients I find tremendous satisfaction. Sadly, it is within the by-product of the human condition and how we treat each other that I have found my pain in the solar industry. It is for all these reasons that I produced my most recent book. Only time will tell the fate of this industry, but at least for a while I intend to expose the truths as I know them to be. Although I cannot say for sure at this point in time if I will indeed remain directly involved with the design and installation of solar for much longer, I will continue to promote the ethical approach to the overall usage.