MAILBOX: PV Pioneer Documentary: Photos Needed

Videographer Jason Vetterli with Home Power founder Richard Perez in front of the “democracy rack” of early PV modules at the fondly named “Funky Mountain Institute.”

Thanks to everyone at Home Power for your decades of service to the solar community. I have a deep respect for your pioneering work in PV education and your contributions to cultivating the rich culture of the solar community, my extended family.

I have found myself in the role of executive producer of a documentary film about the pioneers of PV. This project grew out of the Solar Pioneer gathering in southern Humboldt County in October 2015. Never before had so many pioneers of PV gathered in one place at one time. The experience was magical.

What grew from that event was a film project of the birth of home PV power. We are honored to have participation from dozens of industry pioneers, including Richard Perez, Bob-O and Kathleen Schultze, David Katz, Sam Vanderhoff, Jonny Hill, Johnny Weiss, and Ed Eaton. Our filming locations include Humboldt and Mendocino Counties in California, plus Colorado, Oregon, and Arizona. We will wrap up filming in Grass Valley, California, at the second annual Solar Pioneer Party in October 2016.

Our documentary will tell the story of the off-grid homestead movement and how these inventive homesteaders and farmers created the first major market for PV modules. This story starts in the late ‘70s and wraps at the dawn of the grid-tie market in the early 2000s. We anticipate a theatrical release by the summer of 2017.

We need photos, videos, and film of the early days of living with PV systems, including period photos of off-grid activities like chopping wood and hauling water, kerosene-lit homes, and people playing musical instruments. Home Power readers who have photos or video that might help our project can contact me at jeff.spies at

Jeff Spies • Chandler, Arizona

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