SEAC Group

is creating Sustainable Energy Permitting and Installation Guidelines
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About SEAC Group

Here's the story of who we are and why we're starting a Patreon account:
Our Story of why we started SEAC:
In September 2014, the Governor of California approved a bill (AB 2188) that would require cities and counties to adopt an ordinance within a year, to expedite and streamline the permitting process for small residential rooftop solar energy systems. A California Solar Permitting Guidebook was developed and released in December 2014 to help industry navigate the newly mandated bill, but a lot was still unclear and ambiguous on how to effectively apply this bill.

So, Paula Mellon of Optibiz (a Consultant and principled problem solver) in discussion with Hector Bordas, the Building Official of County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works (LADPW), recognized a crucial need to provide educational training to the industry on AB 2188 to ensure a successful implementation and adoption.

Optibiz and the LADPW held the first ‘New Solar Guidelines’ Seminar training in January 2015. The seminar was sold out with 402 in attendance. Optibiz conducted a survey and it was established that this was the first-time industry and local government had all come together under one roof. It also confirmed that in order for AB 2188 legislation to be successfully implemented, it would require collective support.

This realization gave birth to the idea of starting a solar energy stakeholder group, and so the Solar Energy Action Committee (SEAC) was born in May 2015.
Paula Mellon of Optibiz, was contracted in June 2015 by LADPW to be SEAC's Project Lead.
Paula has successfully lead SEAC from a 21-member group to a collective stakeholder group of 3,600 participants. SEAC originally started as a County of Los Angeles initiative and has outgrown the county and SoCal region to become a state of California group. The group has also subsequently evolved its focus from solar energy to sustainable energy.

SEAC's members are high level sustainable energy experts made up of - Authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), Fire Service, Installers, Manufacturers, Certification and Testing Laboratories and Utilities.
Many of these important individuals sit on task groups, standards and technical panels involved in developing code, standards and regulatory requirements to ensure quality and safe energy system installations.

SEAC provides the forum for all sustainable energy stakeholders to collaboratively implement solutions to common issues that affect the installation and utilization of sustainable energy technologies and systems. SEAC occupies a huge void and niche in the industry. It's key differentiator being the critical work it does in dealing with implementation and enforcement issues with code work, needed to effectively and optimally support the growth and transition to clean energy throughout the State of California.

Our Situation:
In May 2017, the County of Los Angeles made the decision to step out as the principle funder, administrator and facilitator of the group. Optibiz/Paula has subsequently taken over the responsibilities of running the group. The group has become well recognized for the unique and important role to both the industry and jurisdictions it collectively serves. The continuation of this much-needed work depends on securing sustainable funding.
 
Our Accomplishments:
In the last two years, SEAC has written and published 11 helpful guidelines and toolkits - designed to ease and streamline the permitting process - https://www.seacgroup.org/ourwork

What we do:
Currently SEAC has five Task Groups working on battery storage and energy storage system checklists and guidelines, developing proposals for the 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC), and a Rapid Shutdown informational bulletin.

How we add value:
Our members meet monthly and our task groups meet every week. At present, Paula facilitates five task groups. SEAC has become a 30-50 hour per week job for her.

What we need:
We require funding to continue our work, as well as to hire more staff to help facilitate, administer and manage the members and task groups, as well as to publish and market all our work so we may continue to drive positive change in an ever-evolving and growing industry.

All of our work drives and adds value to the investment of sustainable energy and aligns perfectly with the state of California’s environmental goals and its progress toward a cleaner energy future.

We know two things:
1) We want SEAC to go on for a long time. We’ve proven that what we do works and is valuable. We have 29 active members, 203 engaged task group participants, 3368 subscribers and readers. Paula lives, eats, breathes and sleeps SEAC, and the members are obsessed with writing and developing material that benefits the transition to zero net energy communities. This should definitely continue for a long time.

2) We need to make SEAC self-sustaining for this to work. The "fund SEAC with Paula’s savings" is not sustainable. SEAC needs to grow and it needs every dollar it can to invest in itself. If SEAC is going to go on for a long time, it has to be able to support itself.

For a self-sustaining plan, we have two methods:
1) Donations. We have loyal members and participants that have promised to pledge donations. To make the donation process easy, we have added a PayPal donate button on our SEAC Support Us webpage, and suggestions have been to include Patreon as another way to gather support for our work. So here goes!

2) Educational Webinars/Workshops. This is definitely a beneficial need, but it will require a lot of extra work hours, in-kind donations of a venue, and volunteer time to get this planned and executed. It’ll help generate some additional funds to get us closer to self-sustainability.

The way Patreon works is a patron can donate whatever they want per month and the donation is recurring each month after that. Anything, from $1/month up, is hugely helpful to the cause.

What We'll Use the Money For
Our initial goal is $12,000/month. That money will be enough to keep SEAC going as it is, for a long time. Here are SEAC’s costs:
Hosting. We need a robust enough hosting plan to support our website traffic.
MailChimp. The service we use to email meeting information, post material, and promote educational events out to our subscription list. This fee grows as the email list grows.
Ongoing web maintenance, updates and development. It's a website, so there are always changes to content, uploading of new materials, updates to be made, and adding of new site features. We use Wix as our website builder and we pay an annual plan fee. There are other feature costs that may become necessary as we grow.
Zoom Video Conferencing and Web Conferencing Service. We need reliable conferencing and webinar services to run our task group conference calls, monthly meetings and educational webinars.
Catering. We need to provide refreshments to those attending in-person meetings. This fee grows as our attendees grow. In-kind donations or an attendance fee can help with these costs.
Facebook post "boosts". When we announce a new publication on Facebook, this makes sure that the announcement gets onto 1/3 or 1/2 of our Facebook followers' News Feeds. We don’t presently use FB ‘boosts’ but this could become a feature we want to utilize when marketing our work and events.
Me. I need to continue to eat, commute to meetings, clothe myself and keep the internet and lights on as I work. I'm a minimalist who works occasionally from my WeWork community workspace but mostly from my studio apartment.
One employee. We will eventually need someone to help with administrative tasks. Doing all the administrative and operational functions, coordinating, managing and facilitating task groups, monthly meetings, going after grants that will secure us a long-term future, and strategizing quickly adds up to many hours. Without help, I’ll reach burn out.
With those pieces covered, SEAC can support itself.

When we secure long-term grant funding, this is where our stretch goal will come into play:
Stretch Goal
The stretch goal will allow us to take SEAC to the next level, enabling us to do things like:
  • Start quarterly educational webinars 
  • Host and organize educational workshops 
  • Attend speaking engagements
  • Promote and market our work through press releases and social media platforms
  • Expand our scope, increase our task groups and publish more toolkits
  • Hire staff to help with the increased work load

By 2018, SEAC aims to remove code and standard complexities, to predict the advent of new technology related to sustainable energy, and to ensure regulators keep up with the rate of consumer demand and technological innovation so we can achieve a smooth and effective renewable energy transition and a cleaner energy future. 

The stretch goal would benefit and add more value to the industry and be a great accomplishment for the SEAC group. For now, being supported by patron generosity makes us endlessly grateful, no matter what else happens.

Anyway, thanks for any support you can offer if you decide to, and thanks for being a patron!
– Paula

Recent posts by SEAC Group

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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 1 exclusive post
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