Solar San Antonio Celebrates 10 Years
Bill Sinkin, 96!
34 Year-Old Founder of SunEdison to Speak!

Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
April 27, 2009

Our very own Bill Sinkin, 95 years-young, just up and called Jigar Shah, founder of SunEdison, the most successful provider of solar energy in North America to see if he would come to San Antonio to keynote the Annual Solar San Antonio Luncheon! The fundraising event coincides with Bill's birthday on May 19 when he turns 96! And, Jigar Shah is coming!

OnEarth Magazine covered Jigar Shah recently. "In 2003, Shah launched SunEdison to smash the decades-old paradigm that required anyone wanting solar to pay huge installation costs up front. Depending on its size, a rooftop array or a ground-based solar farm can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $10 million. This infuriated Shah, who has always believed that having to own the means of producing solar power is woefully out of step with how the energy industry operates. "Do you want to be in the power-plant business?" he asks. "Or do you just want to buy solar power?" Imagine having to own and operate a satellite to get DirecTV and you begin to understand why Shah scorned the prevailing model for solar energy.

"For Shah's part, he didn't invent any groundbreaking technologies. He just repackaged ones that already existed and convinced people to buy them. SunEdison customers pay nothing for their solar systems. That's right, zero. Instead they sign what is known as a power-purchasing agreement, or PPA. These agreements are commonplace in the coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas industries. But Shah figured out how to make PPAs profitable for solar, something that nobody had been able to do before. When SunEdison installs a solar array, the customer agrees under a PPA to buy the electricity it produces at a set price for at least 10 years.

"Energy experts believe that continued increases in the efficiency of panel manufacturing and installation as well as the emergence of utility-scale installations will soon make solar cost-effective not only in states where grid power is expensive, but across the entire nation. When that happens, the solar industry will thrive without a single tax credit, subsidy, or incentive -- a feat that has never been achieved with any other form of energy.

"According to the International Energy Agency, solar received $198 million in subsidies in 2007. In the same year, oil and natural gas collected $2.1 billion; coal got $3.2 billion. Taxpayers have bankrolled fossil fuels for a century, funding research and development and helping dirty energy stay cheap.

"While new energy technologies come up all the time, technology is not the driver of the energy industry. The driver is the business model: how you get it financed and how you apply traditional risk-management methods to solar and wind and biomass."

The opportunity to hear from this brilliant entrepreneur is unique!

May 19, 2009
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Pearl Stable at the Pearl Brewery


Celeste Diaz Ferraro

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