US Solar Policy — #SolarChat Review

  • Published on November 29th, 2014 by

A couple weeks ago, I was the “featured journalist” on a massive #SolarChat on Twitter, the biggest yet. Senator Harry Reid joined in, as did the CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Rhone Resch; OFA Climate Change Campaign Manager JackShapiro; Founder of Climate Hawks Vote RL Miller; and Greentech Media Senior Editor Stephen Lacey. The topic was US solar policy.

During our one-hour chat, #SolarChat rose to the top of Twitter’s trending charts. TweetReach provided some numbers about the event, but it is limited to only the first 1,500 tweets, so it actually under-represents the impact. Nonetheless, even with that limitation, it showed that we brought in nearly 7 million impressions from 335 contributors. The contributors came in from at least 11 countries and 27 US states.


Naturally, Harry Reid dominated as the top influencer (dude has 240,000 followers):

Harry Reid Twitter

And he was actually tweeting (see the pic below). He showed up a little late, as he had to open the Senate floor at around the same time as the start of the #SolarChat, but he offered a lot of good tweets (and I’m sure no one helped him with those 😉 ).

Despite not topping the chart, @CleanTechnica was actually #2, and I (@zshahan3) was #5!

Regarding #SolarChat impressions per Twitter account, here are the numbers for the top 20 Twitter accounts:

Tweeter Thousand Impressions
SenatorReid 1700
CleanTechnica 1500
SEIA 605
RainaRusso 552
zshahan3 465
SolarFred 231
Stphn_Lacey 220
RhoneResch 185
JigarShahDC 101
SPIConvention 96
GlennaWiseman 89
RL_Miller 77
CarlSiegrist 59
seth_leitman 53
kendra_hubbard 49
derekmarkham 46
SolarCurator 31
NobleIdeas 29
Silvio_Marcacci 27

Below were the 7 questions asked during the #SolarChat and some of my favorite responses:

Q1 What does the outcome of the midterm elections mean for solar state policy?

Q2 How can we build political power for solar post-election?

Q3 What would continuing or ending the ITC mean for your business/consumers?

Q4 Besides the ITC, what federal policies do you hope to see shape the future of solar?

Q5 What’s the best way to mobilize the 9 out of 10 Americans who support solar?

Q6 The solar industry’s job growth is 10x faster than the U.S. average — what role does policy play in that?

Q7 Why are so many leading and small businesses going solar? Can companies shape solar policy? How?

Regarding that last point regarding the true cost of coal, see: Full Cost of Coal $500 Billion/Year in U.S., Harvard Study Finds

For more commentary and wrap-up, see this piece.

Related: “Selling” Solar, Crowdfunding Solar, & More (#SolarChat)

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.