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&A’s with the people who make the industry run every day. Read more interviews here.

How’d you get started in solar?

Our company committed itself to achieving LEED Platinum EB (existing building) certification and eventually net-zero energy at our corporate headquarters in 2010, and so we installed a solar array on our rooftop to offset our building electrical load. Then, when giving tours of our super-green building, the visitors became fascinated by the idea that we could generate our own power onsite.

What’s your favorite part about being in the solar industry?

That we’re making the world a better place with every solar PV installation. Climate change is just beginning to rear its ugly head with an increase in droughts, wildfires, storms and hurricanes most every year, and clean energy is the solution to stemming its worst effects.

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

That the cost of solar PV has been reduced over 80% during this time period, and as a result, this technology has gone mainstream with many of the largest producers and consumers of energy. Moreover, that it has replaced fossil fuels as the lowest cost of energy going forward.

What are your solar predictions for the next 10 years?

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

How’d you/your company stand out in the last year?

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

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

The conviction that we cannot wait for government to solve climate change — that the business sector can and must help lead the world to a clean energy future. Therefore, I challenged everyone in our company to help walk the talk and lead by example. The vision and plan is that our employees’ homes and cars must be net zero-carbon by 2025, in the same way that our corporate headquarters already are as well as my own home and car. If our employees cannot install solar for their homes for whatever reason, they can at least subscribe to green power from their local utility. The monthly cost is often the same as brown power and usually, at most, the cost of a Starbucks coffee. Imagine if millions of Americans made this simple switch today — savvy consumer demand could usher in a clean energy revolution overnight. I’m not taking polls on popularity, just doing what I think every concerned citizen should be willing to do for their children and future generations.

How are you helping to improve the industry?

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