From the Chair: A farewell, a hello

Ezra Auerbach

Ezra Auerbach

This is my last column as NABCEP’s Chair, and at the same time my first Executive Director’s column. I am pleased to say that the Board of NABCEP has asked me to become the organization’s Executive Director. I started my new job on June 1, 2009.   In the meantime, Jane Weissman is acting Chair while NABCEP looks internally and externally for a new Chair and my replacement on the Board.

As outgoing Chair, I want to use this column to reflect backwards.

Over the past seven years that I’ve served on the Board we’ve seen NABCEP go from a “new” concept of certifying solar professionals to the industry “gold standard” for PV and solar thermal installers. In addition we brought in a very successful Entry Level Certificate of Knowledge certification.  Currently, there are over 700 PV installer certificants, nearly 100 solar thermal installer certificants. The Certificate of Knowledge (COK) program is gaining momentum with over 2000 certificants- more than double the number we had in January of this year. NABCEP is most assuredly making a positive difference in the quality of renewable installations in the country. A study conducted for NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) sums it up nicely: “…systems installed by NABCEP certified installers have fewer problems at time of inspection than those installed by non-certified installers.”

The progress has been steady and extremely fast; much like the explosive growth of the PV industry in the past few years. Not prepared to “rest on our laurels,” the NABCEP Board has asked staff to continue rolling out new certifications and Certificate of Knowledge programs which continue to meet the needs of our growing industry. To that end, we are working on a Small Wind Installer Certification – the task analysis has been approved, as have the requirements to sit for the exam. A technical committee of wind experts will work on the exam with a different group of individuals working on a study guide. We have started work on a Solar Thermal Certificate of Knowledge and are beginning to develop a task analysis for a Solar Electric Technical Sales Certification.

As Executive Director, one of my many responsibilities is seeking new sources of funding for NABCEP.  Currently,  we rely on the generous support from the Department of Energy and NYSERDA, along with fees from test takers and educational providers.  However, we need wider financial resources to support our existing programs as well as to grow new ones.  This year, we started a campaign to bring in contributions from individuals and businesses with some modest success.  We Energies http://www.we-energies.com/ of Wisconsin took the lead with a significant contribution and became  our first Platinum Sponsor.  RML Electric of sunny Phoenix, Arizona http://www.rmlelectric.com/default.htm  has become our first Green Level Sponsor. Join We Energies and RML Electric and contribute today at whatever level you or your company can afford. Your generous financial support will help us to continue the work we are doing to further quality renewable energy installations. To learn more about how you can contribute to NABCEP please visit http://www.nabcep.org/become-a-donor .

The NABCEP booth and staff will be out-and-about during June at the PV America 2009 conference in Philadelphia, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. If you’re there, please stop by our booth and say hello.