Solar with Justice: A National Workshop on the Role of States, Community Organizations, and the Federal Government

Wednesday, October 11, 2023 to Friday, October 13, 2023

DATE: October 11-13, 2023
LOCATION: Virtual, via Zoom

Participation in this event is by invitation only. Select Community-Based Organizations and State Energy Agencies will be invited. This event information is being made public for those tracking the progress and scope of the Solar with Justice project.


EVENT DESCRIPTION

To ensure that the benefits of solar are equitably shared, disadvantaged communities need to be able to participate actively in solar development.

An important way to ensure low-income households are represented in the solar development process is for state energy agencies to actively collaborate with frontline community-based organizations.

CESA’s Solar with Justice: Connecting States and Communities project is working with state agencies and community organizations in disadvantaged communities so that they are better able to collaborate on efficient, equitable, and cost-effective solar in low-income communities. The 2023 Solar with Justice National Workshop will build on these themes through three days of virtual programming. Workshop attendees will:

  • Hear about and influence a pathbreaking study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on the solar experiences, views, and needs of community-based organizations across the country.
  •  Learn from national leaders about accessing federal funding opportunities.
  • Network with community-based organizations and state energy agencies from across the country.
  • Share innovative best practices with like-minded organizations.

Workshop Organizer: Matt Ohloff (mohloff@cleanegroup.org)


WORKSHOP LOGISTICS

The Solar with Justice National Workshop will be held virtually, from October 11-13th. Attendees will be provided with login information for these workshop sessions. Participation is by invitation only. Due to the limits of the virtual platform, only one representative from each community organization may attend the workshop on a given day.


STIPENDS

Invited community organizations will receive $400 stipends to defray the costs of attending the workshop by their representatives. The project team will contact invitees with more information on how these stipends will be disbursed.


DRAFT AGENDA (View as PDF)

Note: We recognize that some sessions may coincide with lunchtime for attendees in certain time zones. Attendees are encouraged to bring their lunch to sessions.

 

DAY 1: The Solar Perspectives of Community-Based Organizations
October 11th, 1-4:30PM ET

1:00 PM ET – Session 1: Welcome and Grounding the Discussion 

  • Workshop Overview
    • Warren Leon, CESA Executive Director
  • Solar with Justice Project Update
    • Matt Ohloff, CESA Project Manager for Solar Equity 
  • Attendees introduce themselves in the chat 
  • What equity means for community-based solar 
    • Erica Holloman, CEO and Founder of Ayika Solutions and Solar with Justice Advisory Committee Member 
  • An energy justice journey 
    • Penny Dryden, Executive Director at Community Housing & Empowerment Connections Inc. 

1:30 PM ET – Session 2: Regional Discussions 

  • There will be breakout sessions by region to enable workshop participants to discuss what they hope to get out of the workshop, what their organization is focusing on related to solar equity, and what their concerns and challenges are. 

2:00 PM ET – Break 

2:15 PM ET – Session 3: The Solar Perspectives, Experiences, and Needs of Community-Based Organizations 

  • There will be a presentation of path-breaking research based on interviews with more than 40 community-based organizations (CBOs), survey results from 161 CBOs, and focus groups. After the presentation, there will be opportunity for questions.
    • Janelle Knox-Hayes, Lead Author and Associate Professor, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning 

3:15 PM ETSession 4: Discussion of CBOs Perspectives, Experiences, and Needs 

  • In regional breakout sessions, workshop participants will discuss their reactions to the MIT research and what it means for how to advance solar with justice in the future. They will also make suggestions for modifications or additions to the MIT analysis before it is published and widely disseminated.  

4:00 PM ET – Session 5: Wrap Up for the Day  

 

DAY 2: How to Benefit from the Unique Opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act
October 12th, 2-4PM ET

2:00 PM ET – Session 1: Overview of How Community Organizations and States Can Use the Inflation Reduction Act to Advance Energy Equity

  • There will be a series of short presentations on different IRA opportunities that are relevant to CBOs and states. Topics will include Direct Pay tax credits for solar project, the EPA Solar for All Program, and Department of Energy initiatives for environmental justice communities.
    • Vero Bourg-Meyer, CESA Project Director for Solar and Offshore Wind
    • Jacob Burney, Division Director, Environmental Justice Grants, US Environmental Protection Agency
    • Rebecca Feuerlicht, Chief of Projects at the Office of Energy Justice Policy and Analysis, US Department of Energy
    • Michelle Roos, Executive Director, Environmental Protection Network
    • Katie Thomas, Energy and Environment Program Director, Congressional Progressive Caucus Center
    • Idalmis Vaquero, Senior Policy Analyst, Just Transition Collective

2:40 PM ET – Session 2: Identifying and Exploring the Best Opportunities

  • In separate breakout discussions for CBOs and state energy agencies, workshop participants will be able to ask questions of the resource people who presented in the first session and discuss ways to use the Inflation Reduction Act to best advance solar equity.

3:30 PM ET – Session 3: What Are Your Technical Assistance Needs?

  • Using discussion, whiteboards, and other strategies, workshop participants will identify what community organizations and states need to take full advantage of current solar opportunities. The Solar with Justice Project Team and resource experts will discuss ways in which they and others can help address those needs.

 

DAY 3: How States and Community Organizations Can Work Cooperatively to Advance Solar in Disadvantaged Communities
October 13th, 2-3:30PM ET

2:00 PM ET – Session 1: Introduction to the Day’s Activities

2:10 PM ET – Session 2: Regional Discussions of Strategies for Moving Forward

  • In regional breakout groups, workshop participants will discuss:
    • What help do community organizations need from state energy agencies and vice versa?
    • How can states and community organizations work cooperatively to advance solar in disadvantaged communities?
    • How can states and community organizations ensure that federal incentives and funding benefit the residents of disadvantaged communities?
    • The region’s technical assistance needs.

3:10 PM ET – Session 3: Wrapping Up the Workshop

  • Each breakout group will report on what they concluded from their discussion. There will also be opportunity for final thoughts and the identification of next steps

This project is made possible through a funding award from the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office accelerates the advancement and deployment of solar technology in support of an equitable transition to a decarbonized economy. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.