Contractor Seat Candidates


Noemí Gallardo, Sunrun

Candidate Bio

Noemí Gallardo is a Senior Manager of Public Policy at Sunrun Inc., the nation’s largest residential solar, storage and energy services company. She leads Sunrun’s legislative affairs for the state of California, manages relationships with municipal utilities, and spearheads the development of strategic policy partnerships throughout the state. Noemí also addresses critical issues to Sunrun, including consumer protection, low-income access, and diversity. Passionate about helping build an equitable clean energy economy, she helped launch and is the current Chair of Sunrun's Diversity & Outreach committee. 

Noemí is a licensed attorney and a certified Spanish interpreter. She holds a BA from Pepperdine University, an MPP from the University of Southern California, and a JD from UC Hastings. She graduated from The Greenlining Institute’s Leadership Academy in 2013 and currently serves on Greenlining’s Board of Directors. Prior to Sunrun, Noemí was a policy fellow at the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund; worked as an independent policy and law consultant in the Bay Area; and ran her own language services business in Ventura County. She hails from Camarillo, CA and currently lives in the Sacramento region with her supportive partner, beautiful two kids and noisy bulldog. She’s proud to have a solar system on her solar-ready house!

Candidate Statement 

I joined Sunrun to ensure a healthy environment for my children. I’ve earned battle scars fighting in the legislative and regulatory trenches to protect our industry. As I have developed more relationships with CALSSA members, I’ve realized the wounds are worthwhile. I’m honored to work with such brilliant, caring and dedicated friends and colleagues. I’m inspired to better serve the entire industry by joining the Board.

Having grown up in a low-income community, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I am dedicated to a clean energy future for everyone. I have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with CALSSA’s leaders to support increased diversity and equity efforts as regulators have raised expectations for our industry. As a Board Member, I would bring valuable perspective to help our industry develop practical solutions and navigate critical issues, including expanding access to solar+storage in rural and disadvantaged communities; creating fair consumer protection measures; and increasing workforce/supply chain diversity.  

As a trained attorney with extensive environmental justice advocacy and policy experience, I have the “street cred” necessary to build trust with grassroots organizations and key agency leaders. My past work in philanthropy and with The Greenlining Institute helped me develop an expansive network that has expanded our industry’s coalition of allies. Joining the Board will enable me to generate more strategic partnerships with other groups in order to gain more diverse support of our bills, increase understanding of our industry and provide new perspectives to improve our efforts.    

Living in Sacramento has enabled me to pivot quickly and delve in to educate legislators and other key leaders about the facts and benefits of our industry, particularly in moments of urgency, such as the anti-DER confrontations we faced the last two years. I’m also a fiercely determined road warrior willing to travel throughout the state to accomplish our goals, as I did in San Diego this year to convince Pro Tem Atkins to support us.   

If elected, I will continue collaborating with you and other stakeholders to advance our collective interests, including faster interconnection, streamlined permitting, lowering soft costs, smarter NEM decisions, market transforming policy, and fundraising for CALSSA. Sunrun consistently participates in and supports industry efforts. Serving on the Board will enable me to more effectively leverage Sunrun’s resources to move the needle forward and continue contributing to CALSSA’s success.

And in case nothing else moves you, my kids vouch for me and urge you to vote for Noemi!

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Rich Borba, JKB Energy

Rich Borba serves as Director of Business Development for JKB Energy in addition to head of governmental affairs for over a decade. JKB Energy serves the commercial and industrial sectors of the solar and storage industry in addition to being the leader of California’s important agricultural solar industry. We have also been active in seeking partners to bring exciting new storage and solar thermal technologies to market. Our parent company, JKB Living has developed and built thousands of homes during its 40 years in business.

Without CALSSA’s pioneering efforts such as the Million Solar Roof’s legislation and efforts simplifying interconnection, the incredible California solar market would not exist.  JKB energy is proud to have supported these efforts and the continued vision to transform California’s distributed energy future. 

This vision has been enthusiastically embraced by the $100 billion Ag industry. Historically central valley legislators have not always advocated pro solar policies and over the past several years I’ve made it my mission to use my 25 years’ experience in state and central valley politics to educate legislators on the benefits of distributed solar and storage. Over the past 18 months I’ve built a coalition of the state Ag groups that not only support CALSSA’s vision but actively advocate its necessity in the halls of the state Capitol. SB 700 was passed with support from these legislators voting with us for the first time in history.

If elected to the CALSSA Board I will continue these efforts to save NEM, simplify interconnection and pass a Solar Bill of Rights! In addition I will bring years of experience in permitting to improve the process along with common sense consumer protection that allows our industry to grow.

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Jared Friedman, REC Solar

Jared Friedman wants to bring more solar to the world. From working for years on the commercial and utility team at SunPower to spending two years in the field overseeing construction for Berkshire Hathaway Solar on what was, at the time, the largest solar project ever built, the 550MW AC Topaz Solar Farms, to building a community solar program and developing solar projects at NV Energy (but leaving when he saw the utility was about to start a war on solar) and now as the Director of Commercial and Industrial Sales for REC Solar, headquartered in California, and ranked as one of the top commercial solar contractors in the US, Jared has tried to help make solar more mainstream.

Jared deals with the challenges of solar policy and legislation on a daily basis with customers in California and brings a strong understanding and perspective of the challenges we, as an industry, face in this rapidly changing environment. From shifting TOU periods, poor visibility to interconnection costs and wait times, panel tariff uncertainty, tax reform challenges, to NEM-A and Energy Storage, Jared wants to help bring transparency and certainty so that solar continues it amazing progress in California and continues to lead the US. As a member of CALSSA, Jared would put his experience to use to help our industry continue our inevitable push forward while bringing clarity so solar companies can plan for the long-term. We have a lot of challenges ahead and Jared is excited to focus his passion and creativity on finding solutions. 

Jared holds an MBA from one of the world’s top 10 business school, holds undergraduate degrees in Finance and Management, has raised funds and assisted on multiple Grid Alternative solar installs, written over a dozen articles on renewable energy, installed a graywater system at his home and regularly rides a bike to work. When he’s not geeking out on solar, Jared can be found enjoying the outdoors with his wife and two young daughters.

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Gary Liardon, PetersenDean

Gary Liardon joined the PetersenDean team in 2014 after 25 years of experience in residential and commercial sales and construction management spanning all of the major markets in Texas.

Having built and led teams for some of the nation’s most successful home building organizations, Gary understands the importance of leadership and accountability at all levels within any successful organization. Singular focus born of collaborative drive is a keystone of his management style. Awarded Bachelor’s Degrees in both English and History from Tarleton State University, Gary went on to pursue graduate studies in both Law and Philosophy at the University of Houston. This multi-discipline approach coupled with years of practical field experience has been at the apex of successful team development throughout his career.

When not engaged in or supporting a variety of endurance oriented family sports, his involvement with philanthropic groups like the Wounded Hero Program and the American Cancer Society has provided him the opportunity to work alongside State and National leaders on a myriad of challenges.

Why CALSSA board:

Now, at this critical energy threshold, we in the solar and storage battery industries must collaborate via partnerships at the highest level to keep the momentum moving ahead. In the renewable energy sector, the rapidly growing solar marketplace is without question making its mark within the global energy industry.

We are indeed at the cusp of a new generation of intelligent energy production and use. By investing in solar power coupled with energy storage and smart management systems, builders and home owners can significantly help advance the sustainability efforts of our entire nation by reducing the egregious impacts of traditional energy pro- duction such as greenhouse gas and toxic residue. I believe this new paradigm of energy partnerships is a win-win not only for solar energy providers and consumers, but for everyone.

We have the tools to be better. Now together we must make the financial and human resource commitments to keep moving the energy industry towards a cleaner environment and healthier world.

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Tim Mc Duffie - CalCom Energy

Candidate Bio

As Director of Engineering at CalCom Energy, Tim is responsible for all aspects of design and engineering of PV projects throughout CalCom’s service territory. He oversees the Design and Engineering team and works closely with Project Management and Field Opps to optimize design standards. He also works closely with CalCom’s Interconnection team and industry partners to streamline the utility interconnection process. Since 2017, Tim has served as the Chair of the CALSSA Smart Grid Committee and participated in CPUC Working Group #2 as well as the Smart Inverter Working Group. 

Tim has designed over 75 PV projects totaling over 100MW spanning the past 10 years. Tim earned his Bachelor’s Degree from The University of South Florida in 2006 and is a licensed Electrical Engineer in ten states.       

Candidate Statement

I am proud to be an advocate for our industry throughout CALSSA’s sphere of influence and most of my contributions to the industry have surrounded more efficient interconnection of DER onto the California Electrical grid. We’re reaching a critical level of DER saturation on the electric grid in California and I believe CALSSA’s Board of Directors would benefit from my technical understanding of the challenges we face as we drive towards 100% renewable energy. We need new technical solutions, an update to the Rule 21 engineering review process and Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS) to keep pace on meeting the goal set by SB100. Our industry will also rely on these new smart grid technologies to ensure healthy and sustained market expansion during the coming years.   

As a Board member, I’d look forward to merging my technical understanding with CALSSA’s policy to create a regulatory environment that supports our member’s capacity to develop and build more solar assets throughout California.

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Nate Lewis, Renova Energy

Candidate Bio

Nate joined Renova at the end of 2013 and currently serves as the Chief Sales Officer. With experience that ranges from the kitchen table to Capitol Hill, Nate is familiar with obstacles ranging from misperceptions to rate design and policy. Nate has effectively consulted with cities to ensure the launch of solar-friendly CCA’s, and speaks with realtors and HOA boards about the benefits of solar and storage. Nate can share his boots-on-the-ground experience with the Board and staff to make sure efforts are focused in the right areas that will make the most significant impact. A Finalist for Renewable Energy’s World ‘s "40 under 40", Nate has a bright future in the Renewable Energy Industry and is dedicated to doing his part to change how our state is powered and to protect solar and storage.   

Candidate Statement

As the Chief Sales Officer for Renova Energy, I'm involved not just with business development for our company, but for the industry at large, devoting a lot of time to educating elected officials, city, county and state personnel, as well as traveling to D.C. on a regular basis to educate lawmakers and committee members from the point of view of someone on the front lines. I'm looking to continue to contribute and help amplify CALSSA's voice even more as we work to keep solar and storage affordable and available to everyone.

Manufacturer/Financier/Distributor/Developer SEAT CANDIDATES (1 SEAT AVAILABLE THIS ELECTION CYCLE) 

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Walker Wright, ENGIE Storage Services

Candidate Bio

Walker Wright- ENGIE Storage VP of Policy & ENGIE North America Strategy Director. ENGIE DER companies operating in California include ENGIE Storage (former Green Charge, ENGIE Services (former Opterra) and EV Box, the charging company. 

14 years in renewable energy policy and business development, including various leadership roles within trade associations, stakeholder coalitions, and non-profits. Current appointed BOD seat to CALSSA where I’m serving my 2nd year. Board of Advisors to Rising Sun, the Oakland based workforce development shop. In early 2017 elected by the “general membership” for a board seat to California Energy Storage Alliance, (CESA). Former leader on the Sunrun policy team and very active in Western states in a number of key legislative and regulatory NEM policy initiatives between 2011 and 2016. Public spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice.  Member of policy team at New Jersey based Petra Systems, which built one of the world’s largest distributed solar system 2009-2011 at the time. Lives in Oakland CA and loves Fallen Leaf near Lake Tahoe.

Education- BA- Princeton University;  MA- The London School of Economics and Political Sciences. Real education- serving in “the trenches” of DG policy over the years.

Candidate Statement

Dear CALSSA membership,

I'm running for the Board and would appreciate your support.  For the past 2 years – in which time CALSEIA transitioned into CALSSA and I helped bring more energy storage entities into our membership- I’ve served on the Board via appointment and would love to continue my commitment towards the organization for 3 more years.  I’m very proud to be associated with such an outstanding organization and cherish the hard work we’ve all put in together to achieve results which are moving our industry forward. We’ve been doubted many times but our leadership, perseverance and focus has energized many in California to raise their voices for the type of clean energy choice we all believe in.   CALSSA truly is unique in its execution and commitment to a mission of a distributed energy future in which schools, businesses, and homes can self-generate and store their own power and we need to keep going back to the customer and highlighting a smarter way to build a power system.  We have a lot of important policy work ahead of us and it would be an honor to continue with the privilege of serving the membership.


Benjamin Airth, Center for Sustainable Energy

Mr. Airth currently serves as Senior Specialist of renewable programs at the Center for Sustainable Energy. In this role, he combines his experience and knowledge of solar technologies, consumer understanding, and the policy and regulatory landscape to help derive a sustainable solar market in California. Ben serves as Secretary of the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) board of directors. His efforts on consumer protection and education have culminated in broad messaging for San Diego consumers on what to be conscious of when going solar. More recently, his efforts in program design and administration have led to the successful implementation of the Solar On Multifamily Affordable Housing program where California will invest in the installation of 300 MWs of distributed solar benefiting tenants and owners of qualified low-income housing.

Interest Statement

For six years, I have been working diligently as a CALSSA board member to help create a sustainable solar market for our industry in California. Uniquely positioned as a Senior Specialist at the non-profit Center for Sustainable Energy who is charged with everything from business development to program design to engaging in policy initiatives, I hold a distinct perspective that offers CALSSA the insight not otherwise gained by other members. As an administrator of some of California’s largest and most relevant solar and storage incentive programs, such as the California Solar Initiative, Self-Generation Incentive Program and now the Solar On Multifamily Affordable Housing programs along with initiatives such as California’s AB 2188 Solar Permitting Guidebook, we have been able to coordinate industry efforts that take into account the needs of CALSSA and its’ members through appropriate program design and the basic understanding of what is most beneficial for solar and storage contractors.
By voting for me, CALSSA will continue to preserve this unique perspective and position CSE holds within California’s solar and storage industry with the added benefit that CSE’s mission of accelerating the transition to sustainable world powered by clean energy directly aligns with CALSSA’s mission of promoting “the widespread deployment of smart, local, clean energy technologies while supporting a wide variety of businesses that everyday build a better energy future in urban and rural communities and neighborhoods throughout the state.”

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Les Nelson, IAPMO

For over 4 decades I have dedicated my professional career to the increased use of solar energy in the US, but primarily in California since the mid-1980s.  Some notable achievements include drafting and advocacy for California’s first net metering legislation (CALSEIA-sponsored SB 656 in 1995), improvements to the Solar Rights Act, legislative and regulatory amendments to the CSI-Thermal Program, solar thermal provisions in California’s Title 24 building regulations, and solar thermal language for the federal Investment Tax Credit in 2006 in my role as Chair of SEIA’s Solar Heating and Cooling Division.

If elected, I pledge to continue my advocacy for all types of solar energy on behalf of CALSSA and the solar industry.  In addition, I pledge to continue participating in the work of the CALSSA Policy, SH&C, and Codes and Standards Committees.

Company: International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)
Title: Vice President, Advanced Energy Programs
Address: Ontario, California
CALSEIA/CALSSA Member: Les Personally: 1986 - 2012
IAPMO Corporate: 2012 - Present 

Level of Involvement: CALSEIA/CALSSA Board of Directors, 1986 – Present (32 years)
Chair of SHC Committee 2006 – Present
President, 1989 – 2003, 2005
Executive Director, 1995, 1998 – 2003, 2005 – 2006
Interim Executive Director, 2012, 2013
CALSEIA 2013 Person of the Year

Solar Industry Experience:
1972 – 1988: Solar manufacturing
Daystar Corporation, Burlington, MA
Exxon Solar, Florham Park, NJ
Ramada Energy Systems, Ltd., Tempe, AZ                                             

1988 – 1996: Solar contracting
Revco Solar Engineering, Laguna Hills, CA (RME)
Western Energy Services, Laguna Hills, CA (RMO)

1992 – 2012: Solar consulting
Western Renewables Group, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Solar Rating & Certification Corporation, Washington, DC                       

2012 – Pres. Solar product certification and standards development
IAPMO, Ontario, CA 

Trade Assoc/Related: 2001– Pres. North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners
Treasurer, 2002 – Present
President, 2001 – 2002
Founding Director, 2001