On Sept. 1, our CEO Tony Clifford became Standard Solar’s Chief Development Officer, handing off his CEO duties to President Scott Wiater, who will now bear the title president and CEO.
We sat down with Tony to ask what this transition means for both him and Standard Solar.
Q: First, we wanted to congratulate you on your new position.
Tony Clifford (TC): Thanks. I’m truly excited by the new challenges and having more time to focus on them.
Q: Tell us about the new position and why you wanted to take it on.
TC: I’ve been working on developing projects for Standard Solar for the past several years, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. In addition to working on a number of multi-megawatt, ground-mounted projects, I’ve looked at developing urban rooftop solar with great success. You’d be amazed at how much empty rooftop spaces exist in urban areas that are perfect for solar arrays—and I can’t wait to continue to expand in this previously underserved market.
Q: For instance?
TC: Well, one of the most interesting projects Standard Solar has been involved in recently is our work for the District of Columbia Department of General Services (DC DGS). We have been contracted to put solar arrays on nearly thirty public buildings, mainly schools. The feedback we’ve gotten on these projects has been terrific. Not only do they provide locally sourced electricity for the schools, which saves money for often cash-strapped schools, but it provides a remarkable educational opportunity for the schools involved.
It’s important that our children learn to be comfortable with—and understand as best they can—why solar is the energy source of the future. Having arrays on their schools will begin that exploration.
Q: How will your day-to-day duties change?
TC: They won’t, really. I’m going to focus on the three areas where I truly excel, which include project development, new market development and high-level business strategy. I’ll also be focusing on shepherding the projects that we deem critical to the company from beginning to end. Standard Solar is incredibly fortunate to have someone who can take over the CEO duties without missing a beat in Scott Wiater. He’s been integral in building Standard Solar into the national company it is today. With him at the helm, I believe Standard Solar will reach ever-increasing heights—and I am glad to be a part of this exciting stage of the company’s development.
Q: Don’t tell us you’re going to leave the policy arena—you’re one of the foremost policy experts in the industry.
TC: (laughter) No, I’ll still be leading policy and governmental relations for the company—I have no interest in letting that go. What will change a little, however, is the focus. For the past five years or so, the battles over solar have occurred at the federal level, with the investment tax credit (ITC) and the 1603 U.S. Treasury program. But with 1603 gone and the ITC extended, the new battlegrounds are at the state level.
Did you know 42 states have done something in the first nine months of the year to change or eliminate their net-metering programs? That’s insane. So my focus will now shift from policy at the federal level to policy at the state level—and I can’t wait.
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