Opening Ceremony: Building the Future Grid!

Industry heavyweights came together to advocate for the future of the electrical grid, celebrating decades of solar progress. During the opening ceremony, executive director of CALSEIA Bernadette Del Chiaro; director of NREL Dr. Martin Keller; chairman of energy and finance for New York and Champion of Change AWARD winner Richard Kauffman; and other industry leaders addressed a full room.

During her opening remarks, Del Chiaro highlighted some of the efforts that have been a driving force behind the growth in the both the solar and energy storage industries – and some of the challenges ahead.

“It’s amazing if you think about how much the solar industry has grown and changed in California over the past 10 years,” Del Chiaro said. “Today, energy storage is basically at the same point as solar was 10 years ago. Together these two technologies will be the unifying force to help the energy of the future become more affordable and accessible for all.”

Del Chairo made an immediate comparison of this synergy to California’s energy storage SB700 bill, under critical vote this week.  SB700 aims to provide a stabilized fund to bring down the costs of energy storage to engage customers in behind-the-meter programs. Del Chiaro later inspired a “Twitter storm” for promotion of SB700 to take a stand in the capital.

Building on the energy in the room, Keller discussed the importance of continued innovation in the solar sector. "We can grow the amount of solar currently online by linking new materials with new manufacturing technologies. We can get to 80% renewables in the US and we can continue to drive innovation.”

Champion of Change AWARD winner Richard Kauffman, the “energy czar” of New York who has spearheaded the state mandate for 50% renewables by 2030, an aggressive clean energy policy sending ripples nation-wide. “The thing about our energy grid is that it is not only energy inefficient but it is financially inefficient,” said Kauffman. “There are ample opportunities for utilities to earn shared savings from improving efficiency, and solar and storage can help utilities realize its promise.”

The room was buzzing with excitement for the road ahead – information, innovation and integration will be the pillars of the clean energy economy for years to come.

Watch the Opening Clip on Youtube!