Interview with Creative Solar USA’s CEO, Russell Seifert: The Here and Now of Solar

What challenges do we face in the solar industry as a company? How do we overcome them?

The biggest challenge is outreaching to the general consumer to allow them to see for themselves how solar is of much value today. We overcome that by having workshops, grassroots campaigns like Solarize programs (that create a buzz) and exposes the truth behind solar and how it can benefit the home owner and the small business owner. Solar is a reliable long-term investment that allows our consumers to control their personal finances. In addition, it helps increase the value of their home should they ever decide to put it on the market.

What do you see for the future of solar?

I don’t think it’s necessary to mandate solar energy like California, but I do think you’ll see it become more and more common as time goes on. Take microwave ovens for example. How many people had a microwave oven in the 1970’s? Now look how many we have! It’s a convenience to consumers so it caught on and became a house-hold must have. So, with that, I believe the control the consumer gains (and the convenience this offers them) will increase their likeliness to install solar in the future.

Some say if the cost of your energy bills is low, so is your solar savings. Is this true? Do you think this will change?

It just depends on how much the utility company is charging you per KWH. It’s not how much energy you use, it’s how much the energy company is charging you per KWH.

How do you feel about our recent success with the Solarize campaigns? Will there be more in the future?

I think our success with the Solarize campaigns proves that if solar is brought to the public level along with the education it takes to inform people about solar, they’ll get it. The writing is on the wall with our recent success! There will be more Solarize Campaigns in the future. It is needed in order for solar to become more of a mainstream trend in GA. Here’s why: Other states have embraced solar, but the state of Georgia has not yet. It needs to come from the grassroots and up because we are a regulated state. With that being said, the more we educate the public on solar energy and the benefits that it brings, the more solar we will see in the future.

In your experience, when does solar pay off? Is there a rhyme or reason?

Years ago, everyone had to look hard at the numbers, like ROI (return on investment). I think that was used as an excuse to “get it” and sell themselves on solar even though they already thought it was cool and innovative. Nowadays, people’s motivation is limitless. Some look at the ROI, resale value of their home, or how they can set an environmentally- friendly example. Some who own electric vehicles find it imperative that they get solar to be environmentally conscious. Some people buy solar because they hold a grudge against the utility companies and want independence. You find all kinds of reasons.

Being in this innovative and cutting-edge industry, if you had one hour to sit down and meet one person (dead or alive) to seek advice from, who would it be?

Steve Jobs. He was a man who thought outside the box and was a non-conformist. He had the guts to do what most people did not. He changed the world. He did what Thomas Edison and Henry Ford did – they impacted people’s lives for hundreds of years. And like Steve, I am also a fan of Albert Einstein.

Knowing what you know now and being the successful man you are, if you could go back and give your 18-year-old self advice, what would it be?

If you have a dream, don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do it. Dig your heels in and fight for what you believe in until you achieve that goal. Just know that you will receive and hit many set backs, but how you conquer these trials will determine your resiliency and your dedication to accomplish what you believe in.