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Rhone Resch Raking It In

energy efficiency standards savings $1.1 trillionA friend linked me to a story this week that made my blood boil. And oddly enough, it has absolutely nothing to do with investor-owned utilities. In fact, it shines a light on a growing concern about the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). As detailed in this excellent take-down by Chet Henry on Red, Green & Blue, SEIA President Rhone Resch receives nearly $800,000 a year for his services. What do those services entail? According to Mr. Henry, it’s a hectic life of ribbon cuttings, fundraisers, and lobbying meetings on Capitol Hill.

In all seriousness, this is what tends to undermine progressive efforts to improve the quality of life in our country. We love to unite behind a great idea. But when the idea starts to grow legs and the potential for big pay days, well-dressed and well-oiled consultants and mid-level managers swoop in to scoop up big retainers and bloated contracts, and the endgame gets lost in a tsunami of strategy memos and meetings.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that Mr. Resch rakes in the big bucks while rank-and-file workers installing rooftop solar or building better solar panels hold the line against Big Energy. SEIA is doling out a high six-figure salary to a man who amounts to little more than a figurehead.

And as Mr. Henry points out later in his piece, there’s an even deeper and more insidious double standard at work here. By now, we’re all familiar with Lilly Ledbetter and the fight for equal pay in America, allegedly the most democratic nation in the world. (Note my use of the small “d”.) It’s been driven into the consciousness of every progressive in America that a woman makes $0.77 to every dollar a man makes to do the same job. And while that’s ridiculous enough, it appears the gap is even more pronounced at SEIA.

To wit, Mr. Resch receives 175% more in gross pay than Solar Electric Power Association head honcho Julia Hamm for performing virtually identical duties. Not that Hamm’s $286k salary is anything to sniff at, but you get the drift. Mr. Henry posits that this news will not exactly inspire the women of America to get on board the solar revolution happy train, and I’m inclined to agree with him. But women only make up 53% of the national electorate, so there’s no reason to panic…

It’s good to see insiders like Mr. Henry speaking truth to power and calling out hypocrisy among their allies. Seems like Mr. Resch should be less focused on pay and more focused on defending the solar industry from monopoly utilities and other very real enemies of progress.

 
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is an independent media strategist based in San José, CA. You can read his many musings on Twitter @pjallen2.

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