We talked with Julia Hamm, CEO of SEPA
Julia Hamm started at SEPA soon after college, finding the organization a natural fit for her talents. She is the brains behind one of the largest trade shows in the industry, and has emerged as one of the foremost experts on the nexus between utilities and distributed energy resources. Hamm believes that solar can't be siloed, and that power generation is just the beginning for her organization and its members. As she explains, most customers don't care about a specific technology. They care about an outcome.
PUF's Steve Mitnick: SEPA is twenty-five years old. How did it start?
Julia Hamm: The organization was formed in 1992, originally under the name Utility PhotoVoltaic Group. UPVG was the acronym. The three utility trade associations, EEI (Edison Electric Institute), APPA (American Public Power Association) and NRECA (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) founded it. EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) and DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) were also involved, and so were SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), and a handful of individual utilities.
The individual utilities all recognized that at some point, solar would be relevant to utilities. But at that point, there was no solar market in the U.S. It was very much more of a research and development issue. Because it was so niche, it wasn't something any of the existing groups were going to put a focus on.