MCE Changemaker: Bob Herbst

MCE Changemaker: Bob Herbst

The Changemaker blog series celebrates MCE’s 10-year anniversary by recognizing the extraordinary people who support us and further our mission.

Bob Herbst is a San Rafael based businessman and a local advocate for solar power. After installing solar on his home properties, Bob became the first person to participate in MCE’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program. He is currently the largest FIT generator in MCE’s service area. We are proud to honor Bob as this month’s MCE Changemaker for his dedication to advancing solar energy.

Can you tell me about your background?
I grew up on a little family farm in Northern Wisconsin, where we grew almost everything that we ate. That’s where my respect for the outdoors comes from, as well as my understanding of our need to take care of it. I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard and then moved to Sonoma and worked in the wine business. I received my MBA from Berkeley, where I met my wife, and then I came to Marin around 1998.

How have you worked with MCE?

I completed the very first Feed-In Tariff project with MCE at the San Rafael Airport, so I was kind of the poster child when the program started. I’ve completed four Feed-In Tariff projects with MCE since 2012, and now represent 4 megawatts of renewable power in MCE’s service area. Three years ago, I completed two 1-megawatt solar installations. For reference, those installations can power roughly 13,000 homes on a summer afternoon. I sell that clean power to MCE to provide to their customers.

What benefits have you seen since converting to solar?

It’s awesome to know that we aren’t contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. It’s cheaper, too. Economically we’re getting to a point where the return on your investment is only 6−8 years. I’m a father of two kids, whom I’ve raised here in Marin, and I’m a big believer in modeling. If you can model these things, you break down barriers and make it easier for others to implement these actions.

Can you tell me about your work with the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce?

I’m currently a member of the Green Business Committee, and I used to be the Vice Chair of Economic Sustainability. Our primary objective is education and adoption of green business practices within our chamber and the broader business community. We also do a green business-of-the-year award and help our local businesses get their green business certification.

What do you foresee for the future of clean energy in California?

I would like to see cities like San Rafael electrify their entire city fleet of vehicles and continue solar adoption to eventually get to 100% renewable energy. A challenge that California will face moving forward with solar is building out our energy storage. Once we do that, we can continue to build out our solar power and time shift the clean energy into the evening.

What would you say to someone considering making their business more environmentally sustainable?

Please do it as soon as you can. A lot of local resources, such as the government and Community Choice Agencies like MCE, can help you. It’s the right thing to do for the environment, it saves you money, and it’s something you can be proud of. It’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned.

Why is it so important to you to be an ambassador for clean energy?

We’re a planet of 7 billion people. If we’re going to have a future, every one of us has to look hard at our individual choices for our families, businesses, and communities. We have to cut our emissions and take care of this earth. That’s just the bottom line.

Opt Up to MCE Deep Green

Opt In to MCE Light Green

Energy supply project development

Fill out the interest form below to get started!

Complete the form below to express interest in our EV Instant Rebate or for any questions related to EVs or EV incentives. You’ll hear back from our partners at Energy Solutions within 2 business days.

Marketing, community outreach, creative, and event production

Energy efficiency, EV, and load shifting program implementation and evaluation

Non-energy related services and construction

Connect with a dedicated energy coach

Technology, finance, and human resources