The growth of the solar industry depends on contractors, EPCs, and developers who are bringing residential and commercial solar to scale across the US. GRNE Solar is one such solar EPC, founded in Chicago and recently acquired by financial services company Nelnet.
On this episode of the Clean Power Hour, we bring you Eric Peterman the founder and CEO of GRNE - a residential and commercial EPC working across five midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska) and soon many more.
We discuss the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the growth of solar plus storage in Illinois with incentives like CEJA (Climate & Equitable Jobs Act). This interview will be of interest to energy professionals, facility owners, and entrepreneurs - the journey that Eric is taking GRNE on is truly inspiring.
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It's so easy to talk about and much harder to actually execute. And we've kind of seen that in the Midwest a little bit as well. Everybody wants to talk about storage. It sounds great. But really we haven't haven't seen a lot of adoption because of the economics around it. And I think you made a great point around the storage rebate that is included in the seizure Bill $250 per kWh, which I think is really going to help help more companies help more homeowners see the adoption of batteries.Tim Montague:
Today on the Clean Power Hour in the solar industry is booming. My guest today is Eric Peterman, he is the founder and CEO of grnd. Solar, welcome to the show, Eric,Eric Peterman:
a tam, thanks for having me. It's great to see you.Tim Montague:
It's it's a real treat to have a solar contractor and EPC on the show, I seldom get to bring guests like you onto the show. And the thing that, you know, spurred me to reach out to you was that grnd has recently taken a major investment from Nelnet, which I thought was very interesting. And we're going to chat about that. Now, Matt, is known as a financial services company. And now investing in clean green energy. We're also sitting on the coattails of the IRA being passed. That is the inflation Reduction Act. So we have great solar legislation and clean energy legislation in the United States. Now at the federal level, you and I both live in Illinois. And we know the ups and downs of the solar industry here. But we are also in a boom period with the CGI legislation, the climate inequitable Jobs Act that passed last year. But journey has been growing, you are no longer just a regional player in the Midwest, you are now a Super Regional. And that's very exciting as well, to see your growth as our industry is on I like to say a rocket ship. So really cool to have you on the show. Eric, please, for our listeners, introduce yourself a little bit. What's your background? How did you get interested in clean energy and starting a solar company?Eric Peterman:
Yeah, great intro, Tim. So many great things going on in the industry right now. Always excited to talk about it and love your show and love all the great education that you're doing in, in the industry as well. Yeah, so born and raised in Illinois. For me, I grew up near Springfield, and have I've always kind of called Midwest home and specifically Illinois, went to Northwestern for industrial engineering. So I do have an engineering background. I love being able to tie my engineering background with sustainability. That's something that really gets me going every day, have always stuck around Illinois, after graduating from Northwestern, went to the corporate world for a little bit worked in United Airlines and price to airfare. And I learned quickly that that wasn't for me. I needed a more dynamic workplace. So we started grnd solar. And when we originally started, Gianni solar was myself and my partner, Jeff Baker, who lives in Nebraska. We started actually in small wind, and we developed a patent for wind energy application. That's what got us kicked off. And then we found that a small wind was a hard market to stay in. And a lot of moving parts means that there's a lot of maintenance for small wind turbines. So we diversified and saw the opportunity and solar solar was booming on the West Coast and booming on the East Coast. And we knew it was just a matter of time before it came to our neck of the woods in the Midwest. So we started doing solar before solar was sexy in the Midwest, and thankfully we got in at the right time. And and we've are now celebrating 10 years. So 2022 marks 10 years since we started the company, mostly focused on engineering, procurement and construction EPC solar firm, but I've had the opportunity to do some development ourselves as well.Tim Montague:
Well, congratulations on hitting the 10 year mark. That's, that's incredible. And as I was saying in the pre show, you know, it pays to be an early adopter. We, in the solar industry and in clean tech in general, right? The world is our oyster. It is going to be pure growth for the next 30 years. I tell my children and my younger colleagues, whether they're in energy or in other industries, you know, look at clean energy, look at Clean Tech because it is pure growth for the next 30 years. It's a great economic opportunity. It's good for people, it's good for profit, it's good for planet I like to say and it's just such a it's such a win win. It's such a feel good industry and there's so many mission driven entrepreneurs and professionals in our industry. That's that I love. I'm a lifelong environmentalist and ecologist and In green business enthusiast, and it's just wonderful to be in the mix working day in and day out with so many wonderful people who are changing the economy and changing you know, the built environment for the greater good. So that's that's cool about your origin story. I did not know that about the wind, invention. And I Yeah, you know, I love wind energy. John and I, John Weaver and I, my co host talked about it a fair amount on the on the news roundup every week. And but large wind is really where the action is small wind is still quite challenging. I do run into small wind turbine makers, who are, you know, fighting their way forward and trying to carve out a niche. But it's a tough slog, solar is very competitive. In the greater scheme of things, you know, wind and solar do complement each other very nicely. So, you know, the wind tends to blow more at night, and it tends to blow more in the winter. Both are times when solar is either not producing it or producing less. So in the greater scheme, wind and solar are a great pairing. And then of course, you add on energy storage with batteries or other forms of energy storage, and you have the you have a clean grid, there's just no doubt right, that the technology that we have today is good enough to completely decarbonize our economy. It's simply a matter of deploy, deploy, deploy, as Jigar Shah likes to say. So tell us about grnd. Tell us about the the Nelnet investment. And and what is your vision for the company in the in the you know, in the next 10 years?Eric Peterman:
Yeah, thanks, Tim. God, solar has such a interesting story. You know, we started with nothing, just myself, and just two employees. I love to think back on those times, because we got to do everything we got to do. We were the marketing department. We were also the sales department and the instal department and the inspection department and everything. So I love that we had kind of those humble beginnings, where we kind of bootstrapped it and did it all on our own first with just some small investment from ourselves and some friends. So Jeff and I were the first two employees, now we have almost 100 employees. So we've we've seen kind of the growth that started in the two areas where we live, which is Illinois, and Nebraska just lives in Nebraska. And then we just started to continue to grow from there. And we went where the opportunity was, you know, we started in residential, then we saw opportunities come to us in the CNI, space, commercial, industrial. And then we've even had the ability to do some small utility scale projects as well. Community Solar, is something more recent that we've we've been focusing on as well. So we've kind of played in all of the different market segments, residential, commercial utility. We've done roof tops, we've done carports, we've done ground mounts, we've done tracker. So we've, we've had a lot of good experience over the 10 years that we've been in business. But I love that we the way that we started, we didn't really get too far over our skis with growth, we grew organically. But really, as, as Illinois, came onto the scene with fija. And then now a Seija. The legislation that's supporting some of the solar development, we saw that we needed to get going quicker than than we could currently keep up with the or otherwise the market was just going to outpace us. So we never had the intention to sell our company, we always thought that we would just continue and keep doing what we're doing for the long run. But we continue to get inquiries from private equity and from larger strategic partners who said, Hey, you guys are doing a great job. We want to continue to support what you're doing, but help you grow faster. So that's what really caught our attention. And we knew that we couldn't grow fast enough, just Jess and I and the leadership team that we had. So we started taking some of these conversations. So we talked with a lot of private equity firms. We talked with a lot of larger solar strategic partners and developers, and we finally got comfortable talking to none that which none that is financial services company, they mostly, you know, focus on student student loans. That's where they do a lot of business. They have gotten into telecommunications and some other areas as well. But they are based in the Midwest, they're based in Lincoln, Nebraska. So they they're very similar to who we are as people and how we think about business. And they've wanted to get into renewable energy over the last several years, so they've been looking for a partner in renewable energy as well. So just happened to be a great fit of timing and interest. And nama has been a phenomenal partner, we closed the transaction on July 1. So we're just a couple months into the transition now. But they are a diverse public company, over 3 billion in market cap, they have a strong relationship with a lot of education institutions over 13,000 that they serve us right now. And they're looking very hard to get into the renewable space. And they've set some targets that are that are pretty eye opening that they want to go after, considering the amount that we've done thus far. So right now, their goal is to deploy to under 25 megawatts by 2025. And a lot of that is going to be with their own capital. So it's exciting to be able to have all that horsepower behind us now and really grow and keep up with the growing industry and the growing market that we have.Tim Montague:
Ye think of I think of grnd as a fierce competitor in the in the commercial industrial solar space, of course, you also have a residential division, which I know I know less about res resi solar, as we call it, it's it's a both and right we need we need solar at all scales, residential, commercial, small utility and large utility. And indeed, that's what we see happening across the Midwest now. And including some very, very large projects in places like Wisconsin and Indiana, and slowly but surely, in Illinois. I'm curious though, when you, when you sold a big part of your company to know that and you're you're grabbing on to a grander vision, a you have deeper pockets, right. And that allows you to to be more aggressive and to grow geographically, and grow. You know, as as the market is booming, I mean, the the IRA legislation is is estimated, you know, by some, by some estimates to give us a three to 5x growth in in solar and wind and battery storage in the next five to 10 years. It's It's extraordinary. So, my question is, how have things changed. And I mean, deeper pockets is great, everybody dreams about having deeper pockets. But then you have a problem, right? You have to do something with those resources. And you have to not trip over yourself and and get out over your skis, so to speak as you is to use your expression. So you have to be careful. And so I'm just curious how you're approaching that. And, and and how do you see the geographic marketplace? If you would just touch on a few highlights of of where the opportunity lies for grnd?Eric Peterman:
Yeah, absolutely. 10 I think that's a great point. And one of the reasons why we hadn't grown faster than we did was we were kind of wanting to grow organically and not not get too far ahead of ourselves. And with the not only the the capital investment from now on that, but some of the shared services that they have, they're a well established, very large company. So seeing synergies on our end with financing and accounting and HR and hiring. You know, that's one of the largest struggles that we have right now. And growing fast enough with the industry is just finding people to help execute products. So I think there's a lot of additional benefits that we're realising from the transaction. And we had hoped that that would be the case. They own another company that's in telecommunications, that instals infrastructure. So we have partnered with them to just be thought, shares and understand best practices in the marketplace. They're out in the field, just like we are on people's homes in the community installing stuff underground. So you know, there's a lot of the same challenges that we're seeing with them. And we have the opportunity to like I said, the thought partners there and learn from best practices. So that's another benefit that we see. So being prepared for the growth and not just having that money is something that we've we've really realised what the Nomad folks and like I said they're based in in the Midwest just like we are they've got really conservative values and feel like that. We're we're like minded a lot of things. With that being said, extremely growth minded. So going into new markets is something that we are we are evaluating right now. Just earlier this year, we opened a couple more branches for GRE solar. We opened a central Illinois branch in Bloomington, Illinois to cover the central part of The state. So we are able to cover now Bloomington, Springfield, Peoria, and Champaign in the central part of Illinois. And then in St. Louis, Missouri, we just opened a branch as well to help cover the southern part of Illinois and then get into the Missouri market as well. So those are a couple new branches that we've had. And we're currently engaged on several products in the Colorado market. And we're looking for space there to be able to open a branch here very soon before the end of the year. So Colorado is a new space that we'll be entering. And then you know, as we plan for 2023, expanding in the areas of the Midwest and starting to grow even further east and west from there. So you know, we've started looking at places like having a physical location and Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio. And then as we get to the coasts, seeing what type of strategic partnerships we can, we can achieve there so that we can continue to grow our coverage map.Tim Montague:
I'm curious, what you make of the Colorado market, I think of Colorado as a relatively mature solar market, it's certainly, you know, was an earlier adopter than the Midwest, we have very cheap, dirty power here in the Midwest, it's a mixed bag, some of it is clean to 40% of our grid is, is nuclear power, which is very low carbon. But we also have a huge fleet of coal and natural gas plants. And those are slowly but surely being shuttered and converted to wind, solar and battery storage. And, you know, Excel is one of the companies that operates in Colorado, and is in the news for making that transition as a as a utility writ large, right, they are converting their fleet. I don't know what the deadline is 2035 or 2040. But they're in that game. But what do you make of Colorado? And, you know, it's, it's easy to say, oh, yeah, we're gonna go to this market, or that market. It's a totally other thing to execute on that. And, and then you're, you're you're in the you're in the pond with some, you know, very established companies who are operating further west, in, you know, in Arizona, and in Colorado and Nevada markets, for example, but what do you see in Colorado?Eric Peterman:
Yeah, absolutely. And you couldn't be more accurate, Tim, and that it's very easy to talk about it, it's a whole nother thing to actually try to do it and execute it. And that's, that's been our position for a couple years. Now. We've wanted to be in Colorado for two years. And we haven't been able to dedicate the time or the resources to actually get it up and running, mostly because we've had to focus our time and attention in the Midwest, because we've been too busy. So we had Colorado on our map to open and 2020, we had to revert some of our time and attention to focus on the Illinois market because of the growth and potential that we had here. So we're a couple years behind where we wanted to be in deploying Colorado. And like I said, we wanted to do it the right way. We didn't want to just open it just to open it. We have five community solar products that we're building in Colorado right now that we'll be mobilising on here in the next month or so. So now that we've got a pipeline and established source, it gives us more the momentum to set up shop in Colorado and be more of a permanent structure. We liked the demographics in Colorado, it's a well established market, like you said, yes, there are some other players there. But, you know, I don't think that makes us shy away. But we like some of the other things that they have there. And that they're starting to adopt more building codes that make new construction mandate solar readiness. So having some features of new homes or new new construction built in to where it's easier to put solar on it. So running a conduit from your utility room up to your attic, or building in a raceway on a commercial building so that you've got space to be able to run your solar from your roof down to your utility room. So those type of things are forward thinking. And we'd love to see that and we think it's going to be a great market for us.Tim Montague:
I'm glad you mentioned solar readiness, you know, in California now they have legislation that all new residential construction has to have solar on it, and where California goes, so will the rest of the country eventually go. They are the early adopter. And when you go to Colorado, I went there, I think four years ago, and you see entire subdivisions where all the homes have solar on them. We're not there in Illinois yet, but the day is coming right when this will be a way to go. I market to consumers who want clean energy consumers understand that this is the future. And it's a way to clean the air, improve human health, and step back from the brink of climate chaos. three very important things, all the while turning a profit and growing the economy and creating jobs and educational opportunities and careers. And this is just a wonderful Confluence. But and congratulations on on building five community solar projects in Colorado. We love community solar here in the Midwest with a strong market in Minnesota and now in Illinois, burgeoning markets, hopefully in Wisconsin and Michigan, crossing my fingers and Ohio as well. And so I'm just curious, though, what can you do every EPC has a slightly different business model. When it comes to for example, you know, the boots on the ground? Are you performing the installation labour yourselves on these projects in Colorado?Eric Peterman:
Yeah, that's a great question. We try to as much as possible do touch every part of the project with Gianni sola w two employees, we will subcontract out work on occasion when needed. If there's an area that just doesn't make sense for us to travel to or that we can find somebody that is a better fit, than we have a lot of great partners. And we're not shy about making sure that we take care of our customer, whether that's our employees or subcontractor fulfilling the work. But we have built out our team, everywhere from marketing, to sales, to engineering, to electricians to installers to admin staff, to be able to have everybody under one roof that touches a product. So our focus, Tim is to have grnd solar employees, boots on the ground, doing the instal from the post pounding to the racking to the module instals all the way to the electrical as much as possible.Tim Montague:
Very good, very good. Well, let's talk about our home state a little bit. You know, we have this amazing legislation called Seija. The climate inequitable JOBS Act 2021. And it has major incentives for solar and battery storage, and energy efficiency, and electrification of transportation. It takes all these things to to clean the grid, and make the clean energy transition. I see on your website that you are getting in the storage game though. And you know, we have a $250 per kWh, that's kWh, not kW, for storage now in Illinois, which means that when you buy a battery, it is paid for very typically now, within a couple of years, because that is a very generous incentive. Plus, you can take the ITC, we have a 30% ITC for standalone storage at the federal level. And of course, historically for solar and storage. And these combined are just really solid opportunities for business owners. And if you don't, if you're listening to this, and you don't understand the value that a battery brings, think of the battery as a sponge, a solar, a solar array produces energy for your facility, when the sun is shining, the battery can absorb that energy when you have extra solar energy and then feed it back to the grid or the facility at some later time. Like at sundown when the air conditioning is pumping. But the so the solar array is starting to produce less and but there's many services that batteries provide we call it a value stack. And it's an it's geographically specific. So you have to work with somebody who really understands that value stack in the specific utility territory that you're in. In Illinois. We're in PJM in Northern Illinois, and then in myself in central and southern Illinois. And there are nuances so you really have to find a partner, my preferred partner is intelligent generation shout out to mark through and company over there at intelligent generation, an Illinois company, and they have it dialled in, in a way that I've seen no one else dialling in the value stack of storage here in Illinois, but tell our listeners a little bit of what how you guys perceive storage. And and maybe if you have some examples of favourite projects you can highlight for us.Eric Peterman:
Yeah, storage has been the talking point for a couple years now. And I think it goes back to what you said earlier, Tim, it's, it's so easy to talk about and much harder to actually execute. And we've kind of seen that in the Midwest a little bit as well. Everybody wants to talk about Ah, storage, it sounds great. But really we haven't haven't seen a lot of adoption because of the economics around it. And I think you made a great point around the storage rebate that is included in the seizure bill, the $250 per kWh, which I think is really going to help help more companies help more homeowners see the adoption of batteries. I will say when Texas froze couple of years ago, and in February, we sold a lot of batteries. After that, people were worried about grid instability, people were wanting to be independent. And that's when we really saw the battery market start to take off. But, and just to be kind of transparent, and Frank, too, there's been supply chain issues with batteries, you know, especially on the residential side, you know, between LG Chem and solar edge, and the Tesla Powerwall. In phase and Generac, you know, those are some of the main battery suppliers. Getting a battery has not been easy. And that's been challenging to be able to communicate to customers who, yes, I want to move forward, I want to do solar, I want to do storage, and then to be able to have to go back to them and say, well, we've ordered your battery, it's going to take six to eight months to come in, so hang tight, they just left a bad taste in people's mouth. And part of it is because of the uptick and adoption of electric vehicles. A lot of the semiconductors and raw materials that were being used for standalone solar batteries were now being diverted to electric vehicle production and manufacturing. So I hope that we continue to see more adoption we have recently, we do a lot of Tesla Powerwall instals, here and here in Illinois. But I think this rebate is really going to help to see more adoption. And I think a couple of things that you mentioned why? Why would people use batteries. One is for battery backup. So if the grid goes down, then you have a power source at your home or your business to be able to deploy. But also if people are on time of use rates, you can then use that to be able to store the power when it's cheap, and deploy it when it's more expensive. And then you're actually making more bang for your buck. And as that one of the biggest hurdles, I think is education, and getting people to understand how how batteries can help you. So the more we talked about it, the more education the more visibility in the marketplace, I think the more adoption, we'll see, Hey, everybody,Tim Montague:
thanks for listening to the Clean Power Hour or viewing it on YouTube, we do have a great YouTube channel. If you're not subscribed, please go to clean power dot group, and hit that YouTube icon and subscribe to our channel. Of course, you can find all of our content on your favourite audio platform as well. So please give us a rating and review back to the show. Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned resiliency. Of course, that is one of the primo benefits of batteries. If you have a solar facility alone, you can't get power from that if the grid goes down, right, it has to disconnect from the grid as a safety mechanism by code out of battery and the necessary hardware to Island and have a micro grid, then you're in business when the grid goes down and you have a battery, if your battery is big enough, and you have the right hardware, right. So A and then this incentive, let's just talk about a power wall. To my knowledge, a power wall is like 13 kWh, and that's $3,250 of incentive from Illinois. And then you're then you're adding on the ITC. And you're quickly getting to you know, 60% perhaps of the battery is paid for, right pretty much right out of the gate. If you have a tax liability at all. And, and then you have this incredible resource for resiliency for I mean, you can do other things with a battery and and in in the commercial world. We're doing things like frequency regulation, providing grid services, which can be a source of income, you're knocking down capacity charges. You know, in the west on the West Coast, they use batteries to attack demand charges here in the Midwest, we have relatively low demand charges. And we're attacking capacity charges which are a cousin to demand charges. But capacity charges might be a third of a commercial I mean of a commercial customers electric bill. And so when you have a big battery that you can then knock down those peak demand days, which aren't we call them capacity days. You can really, you can really generate tremendous savings. An example I like to use is, you know a big commercial solar project might be five, five to $10 million. And it'll produce over its lifetime about that much savings, five to $10 million in savings. When you add a battery, you're, you're basically three axing that ROI. And, and so yes, it's a bigger capex on the front end is a little more complicated project, more permitting more fire safety considerations, but the upside is tremendous. And so, and then supply chain issues are not for the faint of heart, we've had major supply chain discomfort for the last year and a half now, and it's probably not going away anytime soon. The you know, especially with the the IRA, right, and solar is booming, globally, not, not, not just here in the US, and we're a small part of the global equation, you know, the US only consumes perhaps 10% of the solar panels that are made globally, China is installing twice as much solar or three times as much solar than the US is, they're going harder, faster, after the clean energy transition, and they've got a ways to go there. They're still installing coal plants to it. So it's a very, very ironic situation. But so let's see what else is on your mind, though, about the Illinois market? And and, you know, what is it? How do you? How do you moderate the temptation to go after one segment versus another? You know, residential solar, is a 20 to $30,000 investment for a homeowner, commercial solar is a 50,000 to $5 million investment, a very different animal, a longer sales cycle. But, you know, they're they're just different segments. And then And then, of course, there's the utility market with community solar, or even large scale solar, but how do you see Illinois taking shape? And, and what should potential customers I guess, you know, keep in mind, like, solar still new. So people need education, they don't necessarily know what it is. And then sometimes people are cautious about these, these waves of incentives. They don't trust the government. And this is something that the government is doing. So what do you say to your potential customers?Eric Peterman:
Yeah, there's a lot in there, Tim, great, great points. The biggest challenge or hurdle that we see, it's still to this day, it's been the same for the past six, seven years, is education. And just helping people understand how solar works, how the economics work, and what it can do for them. And it's gotten a lot better. As people see more solar, as they start to understand a little bit better, we see more market adoption. And it's still a challenge, though. It's just helping people understand and helping people get educated on what solar can do for them and how it works and how the economics work. So that still continues to be one of the largest hurdles. And we do things, you know, like, like podcasts, we have our own podcast called wats. Up. We do community events where we go to libraries and take q&a. And we try to be an independent thinker and independent source of information for for consumers and for businesses who are thinking about going solar education as the biggest hurdle still. When we think about Illinois, you know, early on, we had to be a little bit of a chameleon as a company and kind of do whatever market opportunity was there. They didn't have feature when we started, they didn't have Seija. And they didn't have all these incentives. So when residential customer wanted solar, we were there when a commercial customer wants solar, we were there. And when a utility, customer wanted solar, we were there too. And we had the opportunity to play in all the spaces. And what we've done now as we've grown, is actually built departments that focus specifically on those segments. So like you said, Tim, and segmenting out, you know, residential is, is a world of its own. We have a residential department that only focuses on residential CNI, commercial industrial space is different. The incentives are different. There's depreciation, there's a whole different slew of things that are totally separate from what the residential market does. So we have a CNI team that only focuses on CNI. And then same for utility scale, you know, everything changes in each of those three markets. We also participate in Illinois solar for all programme in Illinois, which is a tremendous programme targeted for helping low income communities and low income households go solar. The incentives are stronger in those markets if you qualify. So we're proud to be in only solar We're all approved vendor and helping those communities go solar as well. So that's how we view Illinois Tim is in those different segments, we have a residential team, a CNI team and a development team that helps execute those. And it is it's almost three different businesses within one. And we've we've tried to play the umbrella over all of them. But there's so much opportunity that we have to specialise in those specific areas.Tim Montague:
Yep. Well said, and thanks for highlighting the importance of education that's really my raison d'etre here, at the Clean Power Hour is to provide good credible, and, you know, just sweeping content around clean tech and clean energy for facility owners, and energy professionals. And that includes, you know, everything from installers to project managers to finance ears, to manufacturers, and engineers and everything in between. So reach out to me here, I'm TG Montague, and on Twitter, and that's my Gmail handle. And you can also find all of our content at Clean Power hour.com. That's our website, clean power hour.com, please give us a rating and review on Apple and Spotify, that helps others find this content. Eric, in our last few minutes together, I'd like to do wax poetically, perhaps about the future, a little bit. You know, we have, we have a great foundation. Now in the industry, we're installing mature technology, when it comes to solar panels. And quickly maturing technology when it comes to batteries. You are so you know, perfectly staged to, you know, become a, perhaps a national solar company someday. And I'm curious, just what can you say about, you know, this, this, this injection of capital that you're now writing, and, and so many good things around the market, with the IRA legislation, which you know, really should give us 10 years of very stable incentives with the EITC, which now applies to, for example, interconnection costs, and other nuances in equipment that it didn't cover before. So it's even more generous. It's not just an extension, so to speak, it's really an upping of the game. And if you're not in clean tech, and you're listening to this, please reach out to me I love helping people get more connected. And and, you know, we'll we'll wrap up with some contact information so people can find you, Eric, as well. But what do you say to either, you know, customers, but also just professionals, who are who are in our industry here, in the Midwest, what's in your crystal ball?Eric Peterman:
There's a lot, that crystal ball, as you've just said, and, you know, the the crossroads that we're at right now, federally, with the IRA being passed, and here locally in the state of Illinois with all the legislation as well, and in other states that are continuing to push sustainable and renewable energy policy forward. It's just an unbelievable time to be in the market and to be in the space. And we don't have enough workforce in the space right now. So if you are listening to this, and you're curious about sustainability, but you don't have a resume that has renewables on it, that's okay. We need a lot more people in the workforce to help us with this clean energy revolution right now. So that's been one of the challenges as well is there's so much good to go around. And there's not enough people to help participate in it. And that's one of the things that I say, too, about other companies, you know, solar is so unique, and that, yes, we're competing, we have competitors, and there's competition in the market. But there's so much work to go round, that we can't do all the work ourselves, and neither can another company. So we have to support each other and make sure that we're doing things the right way. I'm the Vice President of the Illinois Solar Energy Association, and one of the reasons I got involved it was to make sure that we have good quality products being installed, not stuff that is taking advantage of consumers, or that is shoddy workmanship or anything like that. If we're going to survive as a solar industry, we've got to do it the right way. And we've got to make sure that we're doing that we're building good quality products that we're selling good quality products, and that as an industry, we're supporting each other. So that's something that I very much believe in. And there's so much it's hard to talk, you know, we would need another podcast to talk about all of what the future might hold. But, but I think workforce is something that we need help with, encourage folks to get involved to learn and to get educated. And, you know, for us, specifically Tim, where we're going as a hard focus and CNI, for sure, with with the Nelnet partnership, but also in community solar, you know, that's something that that known that is very supportive of and wants to grow into. We're very good at building community solar, but we haven't really had the resources to develop or manage community solar subscriptions. So now within that partnership, I think we'll be able to see a lot more opportunity in that space as well. And then lastly, like I said, spreading our wings and growing into new markets. So there will be a journey solar in Colorado very soon. And as we continue spreading east and west, hopefully, like you foreshadowed earlier 10 That God solar will be a national player at some point in the future.Tim Montague:
Well, thank you for your service to icea the Illinois Solar Energy Association. If, if you're not in touch with your state Solar Energy Association, that's a great clearinghouse for jobs for activism. Every state has to have its organisation or organisations to further clean energy legislation and grow the industry writ large. And we are hiring in this industry by gobs we need 10s of 1000s of more people to come into solar and battery storage. And thank you for producing what's what's up with Marie Berquist in Colorado and shout out to Maria I've gotten to know Maria a little bit on the on the podcast roundtable that Mike Casey organises at Tiger comm really appreciate what you guys are doing with what's up and check out all of their content at grnd solar.com forward slash What's up wha TTS wats up so with that, how can our listeners reach you Eric and thanks again for for making time for the show.Eric Peterman:
Yeah, absolutely. Tim Our website has a lot of great content on it. G R N E solar.com. Definitely check out the podcast the wats up podcast as Tim mentioned, there's a lot of great content there as well and happy to get connected with folks as well. My email is G arias. Eric er I see at gr N E solar.com. We'd love to talk to you hear feedback and get you plugged into the industry. As Tim said we have 15 open positions that we're hiring for. So we are always looking for good people.Tim Montague:
Excellent. Well with that. Let's grow solar on Tim Montague. Have a great day everybody.