Solar Shorts


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You might be wondering, what type of shorts am I talking about? Edible shorts? Nope. These are 100% cotton boxers. But to be honest, I don’t think I will have to eat my shorts – for three reasons:

  • The fact that you are reading this. How did you find this link? Because it’s been passed by word of mouth from person to person, free. I haven’t done an ad campaign, just a web video and a few emails. This is part of my message to solar companies.  I know the economy is awful and your credit has hit the windshield in a thousand car pileup on Route 128.  Becoming the number one brand in solar has nothing to do with launching a multi-million dollar ad campaign, and everything to do with using web video and social media – just as I’ve done with Solar Shorts. After all, with solar energy we need to educate people, not market to them. What better medium to do this than with the web?
  • The incredible promise of the solar industry in the wake of the passage of the Production Tax Credit and President Obama’s stated goal of tripling clean energy production within the next three years.  There are numerous solar companies that will need branding, web design, video, etc, and one of them will hire us – perhaps your company.
  • We know clean energy marketing. We’ve helped wind energy companies tell their stories better and become leaders in the industry. Sure, wind is different from solar, but there are some fundamentals of telling the story of clean energy that cross all sectors. Click here to download a pdf with background information on Captains of Industry and samples of our work for renewable energy companies. 

Since I started this effort with my business partner and colleagues at Captains of Industry®, I’ve been struck by the responses. Many people I’ve interacted with have been feeling helpless as our economy has deteriorated. One day they’re talking to a client, the next day they get a terse email saying that person is no longer with the company. Budgets have been slashed all over. When people have seen me pledge to eat my shorts if Captains doesn’t land a solar energy account in 2009, they see it as an act of defiance and determination (funny but serious at the same time).  My hope is that this sense of determination spreads. All the negative talk is self-defeating. Every time a reporter uses words like “downward death spiral” to describe our economy, it spirals down more. Enough!  Here we are worried about our financial situation, and every roof in this country could be capturing the free energy of the sun today,  to help us all save money, rely less on expensive imported fuels, and halt global warming. The country that invented the Internet is going to reinvent energy – and I invite determined clean energy professionals to join in a discussion here about how we’re going to THINK POSITIVE and make this energy revolution happen. Please post your ideas here at Solar Shorts. You can also email me at any time: Tpage (at)  But don’t wait until December, because I really don’t want to have to eat my shorts!  



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Our Berlin Wall

Ah, 2008, the good old days. I walked into the massive solar conference hall in appropriately sunny San Diego, just weeks after the Investment Tax Credit had been approved. The keynote speakers were giddy with excitement. The booths were packed. Solar companies couldn’t keep up with the demand. The data point that hit me was that there were about 400 companies with booths, but over 400 other companies wanted to be included but there wasn’t room – and this was after the organizers had opted for a bigger venue for 2008. The Google of solar energy will probably turn out to be one of those 400 excluded companies, a start up that’s going to launch a solar technology so brilliant it will completely transform our energy usage. Of course, Google believes they will be the Google of clean energy, and if they can do it, God bless ‘em. I think it’s more likely to be someone in a garage in Cambridge or Berkley who’s going to come out of nowhere.

Another revelation came at a panel discussion that included European leaders in solar. Two PowerPoint slides where shown side by side. One showed the solar resources available in the US, the other showed Germany’s. The US gleamed like gold, with broad swaths of the west and southwest showing perfect solar conditions. The Northeast was more purple, yet still fine for capturing the sun. Germany was a shade darker then our Northeast. And yet Germany has the world’s highest amount of solar energy adoption per capita. I asked myself, what’s wrong with this picture?

As anyone in the solar industry knows, Germany is way ahead of us because they’ve had a feed-in tariff, making it possible for homeowners and businesses to sell power generated by their solar panels back onto the grid at above market rates – a great way to make solar more economic. Why does Germany have a national feed-in tariff and we don’t? I believe it’s because we in America have our own Berlin Wall. It’s made of ignorance, built brick by brick with the help of coal and oil companies spreading disinformation about clean energy, topped with a razor wire of lies by people like  Michael Steel and  Rush Limbaugh  who deny global warming, and its perimeter is a minefield of old habits. Need power? Let’s burn something.

What’s urgently needed in this country is a public service campaign on solar and wind. It’s laudable that President Obama has called for change, and is putting money behind the effort to triple clean energy production. But people are simply not going to invest in solar panels for their houses en masse, coast to coast, until they understand what’s in it for them – the thrill of watching their electric meter run backwardsAnd they are not likely to approve the wind farm in their town if they think wind energy doesn’t work because the wind is intermittent, or the turbines are ugly (as opposed to those scenic nuclear plants).

Soon, our Berlin Wall will fall.  And between the shards of broken concrete strewn on the ground a new country – economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable – will slowly rise, illuminated by the power that has always been right before us but somehow beyond our reach. 


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Ted talks with his doctor about eating shorts.

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Isn’t Dr. Glenn Rothfeld excellent in the video? It was entirely unscripted and I had no idea what he was going to say. A bezoar?  Super models swallowing cotton balls? You can’t make this stuff up.

The blog launched just a few weeks ago, and the response has been extraordinary – beyond anything I expected. Within 24 hours of the video going live, I had received emails from people from California to Europe and Australia. Most of the emails and posts were delightful culinary suggestions for more appetizing ways to eat my shorts. But there were also emails from three solar industry professionals, and our discussions with them are ongoing and very promising. Renewable Energy Weekly heard about the blog and got behind our efforts to promote it. The Boston Business Journal is including the blog in a feature story due out April 10. It’s all good.

So, will I have to eat my shorts? Time will tell. What I do know for sure is that I’m getting to know some great people, and having a ball in the process.

There is, of course, a purpose to all this. Yes, we want to land a solar energy account. But one of the reasons that’s a goal of ours is because we are passionate about renewable energy in all its forms. It’s time to tell the story of solar and wind, and get the country behind clean energy – not just politicians giving speeches, but people choosing to use renewable energy in their communities. What do you think?  How will we make this happen?

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