Despite rainy weather, talk of solar power energized over 130 workshop participants throughout the Southeast last month. N.C. Solar Center senior policy analysts Justin Barnes, Amy Heinemann, and Brian Lips worked closely with our partners of the Sunshot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs)to pull off successful half-day “Solar Powering Your Community” workshops in Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta, G.A.; and Columbia, S.C. All of the workshops provided participants with an overview of policies and regulations that impact solar adoption (for better or worse), and an overview of options for financing public- and private-sector solar projects.
The sessions also featured some excellent local guest speakers who provided their perspectives on what it takes to get solar done on public property. In Raleigh, Julian Prosser, Assistant City Manager with the City of Raleigh, described the City of Oaks’ experience with solar and PV installations. Guest speakers at the Charlotte workshop included Rich Deming of the Centralina Council of Government, Dan Ziehm with Gaston County, Rob Phocas with the City of Charlotte, Stephen Hunting with the Parker Poe law firm, and Eric Blomendale with Dakota Energy Solutions.
“Our guest speakers did a phenomenal job. They imparted good, practical advice about how to go solar, with an emphasis on describing obstacles that they experienced and how these obstacles were overcome. That kind of peer-to-peer exchange of information is incredibly valuable.” -Justin Barnes.
In addition to the Southeast workshops, the SolarOPs team held additional workshops in Richmond, VA; Kansas City, MO; Cincinnati and Dayton, OH; Indianapolis, IN, St. Louis, MO, and Dubuque, IA. It was definitely a busy month, and for anyone that missed these great events, stay tuned! The Solar OPs Team will be conducting a variety of additional outreach and assistance activities during the remainder of 2012 and 2013.
*Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative, SolarOPs achieves its goals through a mix of educational workshops, peer-to-peer sharing opportunities, research-based reports, and online resources. To perform the work of SolarOPs, DOE selected teams led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA. The teams include the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA); Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC); North Carolina Solar Center (NCSC); Meister Consultants Group, Inc. (MCG); The Solar Foundation (TSF); American Planning Association (APA); and National Association of Regional Councils (NARC).
The goal of the SolarOPs is to help local governments take a comprehensive approach to solar energy deployment by: Conducting outreach and sharing best practices for increasing solar energy use with thousands of local governments across the nation; working in partnership with industry experts and national membership associations to enable local governments across the United States to expand their local solar markets; and providing actionable information in relevant areas, such as solar policies and regulations, financial incentives, workforce training, and utility and community engagement.