Solar with Justice: Connecting States and Communities 2021 National Workshop

July 12-14, 2021

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

The best way to ensure low-income customers 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 under-resourced communities so that they are better able to collaborate on efficient, equitable, and cost-effective solar in low-income communities. The Solar with Justice 2021 National Workshop will build on these themes through three days of virtual programming designed to foster connections between state agencies and community organizations as well as provide opportunities for both groups to share opportunities and barriers to solar development in under-resourced communities.

Workshop Organizer: Abbe Ramanan (abbe@cleanegroup.org)


Workshop Logistics

The Solar with Justice Workshop will be held virtually, from July 12-14th. Each day will begin at 12PM ET and end by 5PM ET. Community organizations are invited to attend the first and last day of the workshop, while state agencies are invited to attend the second and last day. 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 organization may attend the workshop.


Stipends

Clean Energy States Alliance can provide $600 stipends to defray the costs of attending the workshop by representatives of community organizations. The project team will contact attendees with more information on how these stipends will be disbursed.


Draft Agenda

DAY 1: Community Based Organizations
July 12th, 12-5PM ET

Attendees from 28 invited community-based organizations, plus the project team, will attend sessions on this day.

Note: To accommodate time zone differences across this national workshop, we have scheduled sessions only in the afternoon on Eastern Time. We recognize that this timing may coincide with lunch breaks for attendees and encourage attendees to bring their lunch to sessions.

Session 1: Workshop Kickoff
Members of the Solar with Justice team will provide background information on the origin of the project, its research goals, and the reasoning behind the workshop. The team will also cover technology being used during the workshop, meeting norms, and the workshop agenda. Attendees will be given the opportunity to introduce themselves.

Session 2: Success Stories in Solar – Small Groups
Attendees will break into small groups of 5-6 participants with a project team member and community organization group leader who will share their story. Attendees will hear from an organization that has successfully implemented a solar project through one of several pathways. The project team member will then lead a discussion and brainstorming exercise with the small group to generate ideas for how similar implementation strategies could be pursued in other communities. The goal of this session is for attendees to learn more about implementation opportunities and challenges in their chosen area and to build connections with other workshop members.

Break

Session 3: Working with State Agencies on Solar: Challenges and Opportunities
Attendees will break into small groups by area focus (e.g., housing, community services, cultural services). Solar with Justice project team members will act as facilitators in each small group to discuss the challenges organizations have faced when working with state agencies, and what needs are not being met. These groups will also discuss how solar can benefit under-resourced communities, and how state agencies can better facilitate access to those benefits. They will identify key messages they think states need to hear about working with community organizations on solar.

Session 4: Closing Plenary and Networking
The project team will share key takeaways from Session 2 and encourage attendees to share takeaways from Sessions 2 and 3. The project team will explain next steps for workshop. The last 30 minutes will be reserved for informal networking through the Remo platform.

DAY 2: State Agencies
July 13th, 12-5PM ET

Attendees from state energy agencies, plus the project team, will attend this day’s sessions.

Note: To accommodate time zone differences across this national workshop, we have scheduled sessions only in the afternoon on Eastern Time. We recognize that this timing may coincide with lunch breaks for attendees and encourage attendees to bring their lunch to sessions.

Session 1: Workshop Kickoff
Members of the Solar with Justice team will provide background information on the origin of the project, its research goals, and the reasoning behind the workshop. The team will also cover technology being used during the workshop, meeting norms, and the workshop agenda.

Session 2: Success Stories in Solar – Small Groups
Attendees will break into small groups of 5-6 participants with a project team member and a previously identified state agency leader. Attendees will hear from a state agency that has successfully implemented a solar program with community organization participation. A Solar with Justice project team member will then lead a discussion and brainstorming exercise with the small group to generate ideas for how similar implementation strategies could be pursued elsewhere. The goal of this session is for attendees to learn more about implementation opportunities and challenges and to build connections with other workshop members.

Break

Session 3: Working with Community Organizations on Solar: Challenges and Opportunities
Attendees will be broken out into groups by program focus area (community solar, solar for affordable housing, etc.). Project team members will act as facilitators in each small group to discuss the challenges state agencies have had working with community organizations, and what needs are not being met. These groups will also discuss how solar can benefit under-resourced communities, and how state agencies can better facilitate access to those benefits.

Session 4: Closing Plenary and Networking
The project team will share key takeaways from Session 2 and encourage attendees to share takeaways from Sessions 2 and 3. The project team will explain next steps for workshop. The last 30 minutes will be reserved for informal networking through the Remo platform.

DAY 3: Community Organizations and State Agencies
July 14th, 12-5PM ET

Attendees from both the participating community organizations and state agencies will attend this day’s sessions

Note: To accommodate time zone differences across this national workshop, we have scheduled sessions only in the afternoon on Eastern Time. We recognize that this timing may coincide with lunch breaks for attendees and encourage attendees to bring their lunch to sessions.

Session 1: Day 3 Overview
Solar with Justice team members will provide a brief introduction to the day’s activities and summarize insights gleaned from Days 1 and 2. Participants will introduce themselves.

Session 2: Regional Discussion Groups
Attendees will break into small groups. Community organizations will share their goals and state agencies will discuss programs/initiatives they offer and/or would like to expand. A goal of these sessions is to foster connections between community organizations in states and representatives from energy agencies in those states.

Break and Networking

Session 3: Shared Challenges and Opportunities Among States and Community organizations
Project team members will highlight themes brought up during the previous sessions, including challenges/opportunities facing community groups, challenges/opportunities facing states, and commonalities between the two groups. Attendees will be encouraged to share and add to the items listed by project team members through a sticky note/whiteboard exercise. To wrap up, project team members will discuss next steps for the Solar with Justice project and how community organizations and state agencies can stay involved and connected with one another.