Solar United Neighbors' fourth annual Virginia Solar Congress was held on Saturday, November 16 at the William & Mary School of Education. The event attracted members of the William & Mary community, in addition to residents from across Virginia.
“The Virginia Solar Congress was an outstanding opportunity to gather the greater Virginia community with William & Mary students, faculty, and staff under a common umbrella to share and learn. Solar United Neighbor’s work is truly cross-cutting in nature and demonstrates that sustainability relates to all for many different reasons,” said Calandra Waters Lake, Director of Sustainability at William & Mary.
More than 200 solar supporters from across Virginia gathered to hear from experts who presented on a variety of solar-related topics, including sessions about how solar technology works, how to create solar projects in your community, and the benefits of adding solar for businesses.
The event was co-sponsored by Solar United Neighbors, a national non-profit organization which aims to increase access to solar energy at a reduced cost for groups of homeowners through local co-ops.
The Virginia chapter of Solar United Neighbors provides residents with state-specific information on how they can take advantage of solar power. The 2019 Solar Congress highlighted this information in presentations covering topics such as solar workforce development, solar for business, and equity in solar. Virginia-based experts highlighted their personal experiences working in the state’s solar power industry.
“This year's Congress was the largest we've done to date,” said Ben Delman, Communications Director for Solar United Neighbors. “This gave us an opportunity to significantly increase the number and variety of sessions we held. It allowed us to delve deeper into important topics such as equity in solar, and training Virginia's solar workforce.”
With multiple workshops and panels occurring simultaneously, conference attendees had the opportunity to choose which sessions most appealed to them.
“Some [people] were totally new to solar. They were focused on learning how the technology works and how they themselves might install solar. Others have been solar homeowners for a long time. They were interested in what other things they could do to take control of where their electricity comes from. This might mean adding an electric vehicle or battery storage. Finally, many attendees were interested in what needed to be done so that all Virginians could benefit from solar energy,” Delman said.
Solar congress attendees gathered to learn how they could help to advance Solar United Neighbors’ goals in Virginia. The Solar Policy Training workshop equipped participants with strategies to push for pro-solar legislation in Virginia, including the opportunity to attend Solar Lobby Day in early 2020.
Throughout the day, electric vehicle owners were outside of the School of Education to talk to conference participants about their vehicles. They also discussed how individuals can pair their electric vehicles with solar power. This portion of the day’s events was part of Solar United Neighbors’ larger Solar and Electric Vehicle Co-op which helps homeowners install electric vehicle charging capabilities at their homes.
With the breadth of information sessions covered in the day’s events, Solar United Neighbors found one suggestion shared among attendees: “A common theme is a desire for more time. There are so many interesting things to discuss around solar that it can be a challenge to fit them into one day,” said Delman.
If you are interested in learning more about Solar United Neighbors and installing solar in your community and beyond, contact their outreach team at firstname.lastname@example.org.