Sunrun CEO Powell sees need for more rooftop solar
The Associated Press spoke with Powell about the Act’s impacts on reducing inflation. Answers have been edited for longer.
Q: How will the Cut Inflation Act stimulate the growth of the solar industry?
A: We are seeing 33% year-over-year growth and incredible customer demand. At the same time, we are still collectively as an industry in just 4% of the 77 million addressable households.
I think mainstream America is becoming really, really aware of the value of solar power, storage, and electric vehicles. So this legislation just blackmails me, because it means many more customers who would enjoy a more affordable, resilient and comfortable future will now be able to do so.
We need to grow from 4% of the addressable market to a much higher number to meet the kinds of emissions targets that are in this act.
Q: Does the legislation make it easier for low-income Americans to access solar power?
A: Our average client currently has an average household income of $50,000 to $100,000. So with the additional support in the bill for low-income, working-class families, we really expect that segment to continue to be the order-of-magnitude growing segment. So we’re really excited about that.
There are some very good incentives there that will help us grow the work that we are currently doing in the area of multifamily housing.
So many decisions that affect energy-related emissions are made at the kitchen table. This bill is full of ways that when that kitchen table conversation happens, customers can see, “Oh my God, I could use an electric vehicle and save some money, I could use the solar energy and save money. I could get storage and save money. And then you put it all together, and the average lower-working-class American could really save $1,800 a year, which when you balance school budgets, health care, food costs, etc. is a significant number for so many Americans. .
Q: Why is it so important for you to increase the amount of solar power on rooftops?
A: Grandfather’s grid solution cannot be the only solution of the future. This is a very important part of the solution.
Some people don’t realize that the solar power we put on rooftops in any given year is the capacity of a nuclear power plant. Think about it. And it’s on rooftops all over America. So when we combine storage with this, another thing that excites me is how can we leverage these assets by working with the network operators, with the utilities, to really reduce the cost of the network for all and make it more resilient for all.
Q: How have attitudes towards climate change evolved since you started?
A: I used the word climate change and I was basically told, “Oof. Never use this word. You will be perceived negatively, people will not take you seriously.
I was definitely the skunk at the garden party at every utility event I went to, talking about customer obsession, talking about innovation, talking about a distributed network, talking about climate change. So things have changed radically.
It’s so exciting to me that there is now so much national and international interest. There is so much money invested in climate solutions, technological solutions. This is a radical change over the past two decades. So while I wish it had moved faster — that’s how I’m wired — I can also see that things have changed quite dramatically and this bill may be the catalyst for the next change really important that we have to bring as a society.