Standard Solar CEO Tony Clifford is in the running for a seat on the Board of Directors for SEIA, the Solar Energy Industries Association – obviously we think he would be a great candidate for the job, and we wanted to share his “stump speech” with all of you. The following are remarks Tony prepared for a recent podcast in order for SEIA voting members to get to know him and his ideas.

Voting is open to SEIA members through 1:00 pm eastern next Tuesday the 22nd, winners will be announced on Wednesday.

If elected, I’ll be coming to the SEIA board with the experience I’ve gained in the past five years growing Standard Solar from a three-person, local solar installer into a major regional developer and integrator with national aspirations. As CEO of Standard Solar and president of our regional SEIA chapter, MDV-SEIA, the bulk of my political/lobbying experience has been at the state and local levels. With this perspective, I think I can help national SEIA make more effective use of grass roots solar support to promote our national solar priorities.

As the cost of solar PV has dropped rapidly in the last few years, the pushback from our opponents has become quite visceral, especially in the past several months. Now that our industry is within striking distance of utility cost-competitiveness, solar is viewed as a real economic threat by the traditional purveyors of dirty energy.  To combat our well-funded opponents, we are going to need an all out effort. To be successful we must re-energize solar’s traditional base of support – individual Americans and environmental groups. In growing Standard Solar, I gained a real appreciation for how to get “buzz” for our company — via traditional media, the Internet and social networking. As a board member I’ll work hard to get the SEIA message out, especially to the 80+ % of Americans the pollsters constantly tell us are supporters of solar energy. I’ll also use my “lessons learned” at the state and local level to promote more effective grass roots messaging of national SEIA priorities.

Both at Standard Solar and earlier in my career at Solarex Corporation (now BP Solar), I recognized that my company would not be successful unless it was part of a thriving industry. As such I have always viewed government relations and industry development as integral to my job.  2012 is going to be a make or break year for the US solar industry. With increasing uncertainty in Washington, we need to be sure that existing federal solar incentives are preserved if we are to maintain industry growth and spur the continued cost reduction we need to reach grid parity. I am the CEO of a profitable solar “success story” with no dependence on DOE loan guarantees or other federal support (beyond the ITC and Treasury Grant programs). As such I can be effective delivering the national SEIA message as a solar CEO who been there/done that – and done it right!

I’d appreciate your vote.