People of the 10th anniversary Top Solar Contractors list: Steve Melink, Melink Corporation

For the 10th anniversary of the Top Solar Contractors list, we’re sharing Q&As with the people who make the industry run every day. Read more interviews here.

How did you get started with solar energy?

Our company has committed to achieving LEED Platinum EB (existing building) certification and finally energy neutral at our headquarters in 2010, so we installed a solar panel on our roof to offset the electrical load on our building. When they gave tours of our super green building, visitors became fascinated by the idea that we could generate our own electricity on site.

What is your favorite part of working in the solar industry?

That we make the world a bit more beautiful with every solar PV installation. Climate change is just starting to rear its ugly head with an increase in droughts, wildfires, storms and hurricanes almost every year, and clean energy is the solution to mitigate its worst effects.

What has surprised you most about the solar industry in the past 10 years?

That the cost of solar photovoltaics has been reduced by more than 80% during this period, and as a result, this technology has become mainstream among many of the largest producers and consumers of energy. In addition, it has replaced fossil fuels as the lowest energy costs in the future.

What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?

I predict that solar and wind will provide more than 50% of the energy on our grids by 2030, both in the US and in Europe. More than half of this will come from solar energy. This will make the solar PV industry one of the fastest growing industries in the world… and one of the biggest job creators.

How did you/your company stand out in the past year?

Our company’s solar business stood out by growing more than 30% during a global pandemic that shut down or significantly reduced up to 80% of all businesses. We have also moved to a brand new net zero carbon HQ2 in addition to our HQ1 mentioned above. It is a state-of-the-art building with not only a super-insulated enclosure, smart LED lighting and shade controls and an innovative geothermal HVAC system, but also a solar canopy with charging stations and a growing fleet of electric cars. We probably have more Teslas in our business than any mid-sized company in America.

What inspired you to ask your employees to choose the clean power option from their local utilities, and how has that worked out?

The belief that we can’t wait for government to fix climate change – that business can and should help lead the world into a clean energy future. That’s why I challenged everyone in our company to join the conversation and lead by example. The vision and plan is that our employees’ homes and cars should be net carbon neutral by 2025, just like our headquarters and my own home and car already are. If for some reason our employees can’t install solar power for their home, they can at least subscribe to green power from their local utility company. The monthly costs are often the same as brown electricity and usually at most the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Imagine if millions of Americans made this simple switch today — smart consumer demand could spark a clean energy revolution overnight. I’m not doing popularity polls, I’m just doing what I think every concerned citizen should be doing for their children and future generations.

How do you help improve the industry?

Hopefully, by leading the way in the ways mentioned above — by providing our employees with inspiring, net-zero carbon facilities to do their best work, and by providing our employees with the ability to drive solar-powered electric cars, and thereby become leaders in their own right in their respective communities. I recently published the second book, Fusion Capitalism – A Clean Energy Vision for Conservatives, which is an indirect way to improve the industry. By educating and inspiring those who have often championed the fossil fuel industry, I hope to raise awareness that clean energy is the greatest opportunity of the 21st century. This, in turn, will hopefully help accelerate demand so that the US can lead the world towards a safer, healthier and more prosperous future. Capitalism got us into this problem, but capitalism powered by fusion (solar energy) is also the best economic system to get us out of this problem.

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