On June 13-14th, 2013 President Bill Clinton hosted the third Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America meeting in Chicago, IL. CGI America is an initiative of the Clinton Foundation that convenes the nation’s leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Standard Solar (SSI) CEO, Tony Clifford, attended the event to announce SSI’s second commitment and represent the company in various meetings and working sessions. We caught up with Tony after the conference to ask some questions and get some details on his CGI America experience.

What sparked the company’s interest to do a second commitment with CGI America?

We were inspired by the company’s prior CGI America commitment made in 2006, which was to raise at least $5.5 million in additional capital investment to enable more homeowners to more easily and affordably purchase residential solar electric systems – fighting global warming one roof at a time. We were proud to meet that commitment in less than five years. It was important for us to continue the pursuit of expanding the solar industry and adopting new technologies to make solar truly affordable to businesses and residential communities nationwide. Our company was already developing new company goals internally and we thought that CGI’s vision and goals were a good fit with ours.

What was SSI’s commitment?

Standard Solar pledged a two-pronged commitment to address the energy industry’s challenge of fully integrating photovoltaics (PV) with the grid. Firstly we committed to work with innovative companies to develop and demonstrate new products and technologies that enhance markets, reduce costs, and/or promote new revenue streams for solar PV. Secondly, we pledged to continue the Company’s commitment to rapid growth to achieve the scale necessary to compete with grid-supplied power.

How was SSI’s experience working with the CGI America team in preparation for the meeting?

The process went smoothly; we worked closely with CGI staff to ensure our commitment mirrored CGI’s vision while staying true to our own goals. The staff was very helpful and responsive, providing great support and feedback for our team as we prepped for the meeting.

How was the response to the SSI announcement at the meeting?

We received excellent feedback from other attendees at CGI America, especially in regards to our 402kw Konterra project– which is the first project towards our CGI commitment and is one of the first US commercial solar micro-grids. During my Renewable & Distributed Energy working sessions, one of the discussions on innovative and cost effective renewable energy solutions, I presented the idea of micro-grids as an example of an off-grid solution; the group members were intrigued by the financial benefits and storage capabilities that a solar micro-grid could offer and it was a healthy part of our group’s discussion during the conference

Why was it important for SSI to make this commitment?

It is very important for SSI to be a part of CGI America’s commitment to action plan as we not only believe in preserving the environment, but also our nation’s economy.  Our commitment represents a diverse solution to one of the issues facing Americans today- high energy costs.  It will assist in the overall promotion of economic recovery in the United States through the support of technological innovation and the growth of green business. We are grateful to be a part of the 2013 commitment-makers whose work will impact millions of lives. Our joint commitment contributes to the overall CGI America 2013 total numbers that will directly affect more than 2,000,000 lives, create more than 100,000 jobs and have several other positive impacts on the US economy.

How was your overall experience with attending the CGI America Conference?

I was honored to represent SSI to deliver our second commitment and learned a lot from the event. It is a great opportunity to meet with other leaders from businesses, foundations, and government sectors across the nation to join together for a good cause. I personally had the opportunity to meet so many people- President Clinton, the Secretary of the Treasury and several senior executives from related industries that offered some new perspectives on how businesses like ours can truly have a local and even global impact. My favorite part of these conferences, like CGI America, is the working groups. To not only get to know professionals from around the country but also have the opportunity to discuss relevant issues and exchange ideas and solutions. These events stimulated creative thinking, business growth and innovation.  Overall, a great experience and we are excited to report in our work to CGI America over the coming years.