Less than four years after founding a solar power sales and installation company, Houston resident Caleb Arthur has reached the top rung of the solar ladder in Missouri.
Arthur – CEO of Houston-based Missouri Sun Solar – was elected president of the Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association (MOSEIA) board of directors during its annual conference, Nov. 19-20 in Columbia. MOSEIA is a statewide trade association that represents the interests of Missouri’s solar industry and provides members with training and resources to develop their businesses.
“Being elected president of MOSEIA is like a culmination of the little guy getting big enough that he can sit at the table and have a valid argument and conversation with the guys where nobody has been able to knock on their doors for a very long time,” Arthur said.
As MOSEIA’s new president, Arthur replaces Rick Hunter, CEO of Microgrid Solar in St. Louis. Joining him as the organization’s vice president is Bob Solger, owner of Solar Design Studio in Kansas City.
Arthur will serve a two-year term before another MOSEIA member is elected. He is MOSEIA’s current vice president and has been on the board for close to three years.
“When I was first appointed, that kind of started the whole process of getting me to think about what I could do to make our industry better,” Arthur said, “and by that I mean growing it, creating more employment and creating a situation where we’re able to get along better with utility companies and see the light at the end of the tunnel like has happened in other states.
MOSEIA has played an integral role in the development and growth of the solar industry in Missouri by helping to pass state’s first renewable energy standard – Proposition C – in 2008. In his new role, Arthur will lead the organization through the 2016 election year, viewed as critical for the solar industry in Missouri and throughout the U.S., as a 30-percent federal tax credit for solar power systems is set to expire at the end of next year and will be up for renewal.
Arthur said he is intent on informing and educating Missouri legislators about the benefits of the tax credit to both the solar industry and the state with regard to job creation and investment.
“Our state is in the top 15 in renewable energy,” he said, “but that’s mostly because of a massive acceptance on a residential and small commercial scale. There are barriers in the way of big utility or large commercial scale usage.
“The federal government wants us to do it, but our state legislature won’t really hear us out.”
Arthur said he plans to work closely with Renew Missouri (a non-profit renewable energy advocacy association based in Jefferson City) to help pass legislation that will strengthen and protect the gains he feels solar has made throughout the state, and plans are in place to let the masses make their wishes known on the November ballot.
“Our push is we’re going back to the voters, and we’re going to ask them to get rid of some of the barriers that keep us from having a free market,” he said. “It’s no longer going to be about being subsidized or anything like that, we want all the caps removed that prevent the big users – like Walmart – from going solar. For example, right now a lot of people with electric bills higher than $1,200 can’t offset any more of that with solar panels because of a state law that caps how much power can be put back into a meter.”
Arthur said he anticipated about a year ago that MOSEIA board members might consider him as their next president, and began the formation of the Missouri Solar Owners Association, a grassroots coalition of solar power users and advocates. The organization’s first meeting took place in Springfield in October.
“We had all kinds of stakeholders show up,” Arthur said, “from people who have had solar panels and lived off-grid for 20 years, to top representatives of large companies like Myers Hotels and O’Reilly Auto Parts. It was great having all these people brainstorming with us about things like engaging our legislators and conducting voter petition drives.”
As owner of a growing business viewed by some people as controversial, Arthur offered advice to his peers.
“I think it’s important for anybody in any industry to realize that all you have to do is stay engaged, keep a cool head and understand where people are coming from, even if you don’t agree with them,” he said, “because eventually you might end up agreeing with them and you don’t want them upset with you. You have to understand that everybody is at a different point in their lives.”
“Being elected president of MOSEIA is like a culmination of the little guy getting big enough that he can sit at the table and have a valid argument and conversation with the guys where nobody has been able to knock on their doors for a very long time.”
– CALEB ARTHUR
Founded in May 2012, Missouri Sun Solar is a family-owned solar installation company headquartered in Houston with offices in Springfield, Joplin, Columbia and St. Louis, and a total of about 70 employees. The company installs both commercial and residential systems throughout the state and is ranked the No. 1 installer of residential solar systems in Missouri by Solar Power World magazine. For more information, log onto www.MissouriSunSolar.com.