Solar Enthusiast Keith Freeman Brings 25 Years Experience to Coastal Solar

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Keith Freeman has been enamored with solar power since the 1970s while attending college at the University of Alabama. His professor in environmental studies, Dr. Ed Passerini, sparked Freeman’s passion for solar, and his boyish enthusiasm for the technology has never waned.

“I’m like a little kid every time I turn it on. I’m constantly amazed,” says Freeman, that we can power our homes and businesses from something as simple as sunlight.

Freeman specializes in working with people. Almost everyone you ask says they would love to use solar power. But according to Freeman, you lose 99% of them when you start talking about price. But that’s been changing the last five years or so, as the price has dropped from about $8 per Watt down to less than $3. Combining that with tax credits from the federal level (and many states too), what used to be more of a “lifestyle” choice has become more and more practical.

But communicating all this takes skill and patience. Though solar has been around for 40 years, it’s still “perceived as new” by many, and the technology can be complicated to explain.

This is especially true in the agriculture business, where farmers are starting to realize that solar is becoming one of their best options to cut costs. But farmers are also among the least likely to make such a big decision simply on feel-good emotions. They want to see the numbers.

Freeman sees “lots of potential” for solar in the farming sector, in part because the USDA has added even more incentives to help farmers cut the initial costs, in addition to the available tax credits.

And for farms, switching to solar is not just about the long term cost savings. Georgia and other Southeastern states are prone to occasional “brown-outs” in the hot summer months when everyone runs their air conditioners, and some farms have found themselves without power at certain times of the day. Solar power restores control to the farmer.

Freeman is very excited to work with farmers, one of Coastal Solar’s primary markets. When Freeman got started in the 70s, there was no solar energy at all in Georgia. And in the 80s, when all the tax credits went away, it was a hard sell, and Freeman spent several years in other industries.

But in 2002, Freeman helped found One World Sustainable, a company that designs, builds, and installs solar power systems. One World has done a lot of work in Florida and the Caribbean islands. But now Freeman is “excited to be a part of this team and building a company that’s not only local, but regional and national” in its vision and scope.

Freeman is thrilled to be able to focus on his strengths – relationships and communication. He says Coastal Solar is financially strong and can use its power purchase agreements with local utilities to make solar more feasible for larger commercial spaces.

He’s also found renewed inspiration from CEO Clay Sikes’ vision for the future about solar energy. Sikes has infused the entire company with passion and enthusiasm, and Freeman loves being there.

Speaking of Freeman, Sikes says he is “not only one of the most gifted and talented industry professionals, but [he’s] also one of the industry’s nicest persons” who “enjoys sharing and teaching others” and will fit in perfectly with Coastal Solar’s team.

“Having Keith Freeman on board makes Coastal Solar a better business. His knowledge of the industry, his contacts and friends throughout the renewable energy world will no doubt be a strong plus for us,” says Sikes.

Freeman says he likes to “under-promise and over-deliver” and to be “honest and realistic” so people know what they’re getting. Solar is a great option with a sustainable future, and he looks forward to working with each new customer on a personal basis.

Keith Freeman has a solar contractor license in Florida, and is a NABCEP certified PV installer. He’s worked over 25 in the solar industry, beginning in the 1970s, returning in the early 2000s with One World Sustainable, and now moving over to Coastal Solar.