Following Up: Solar Adopter's Conference

Posted January 25, 2024

Solar Event

Chester County's Environmental and Energy Advisory Board (EEAB) and partners hosted the county's first Solar Adopter's Conference on January 18 for businesses and organizations to learn about the ways to obtain long-term benefits and cost savings using solar energy.

"Our [Climate Action] Plan recognizes that there is a lot of potential for increasing the development of solar power in the county, and that renewable energy can make a big dent in our greenhouse gas emissions. We've also seen increased interest in going solar due to new and expanded incentives for solar power, coupled with many businesses and institutions' intentions to show leadership in sustainability to their customers and constituents," stated Commissioner Josh Maxwell in his opening remarks. "This Solar Adopter's Conference is intended to provide the information you'll need to help you make a decision about whether solar power might be good for your business or organization, and if so, to provide some resources to help you navigate the process."

The half-day event featured presentations from nine solar industry experts who shared information geared toward building the knowledge of those considering solar energy systems.

"Solar power, especially when coupled with energy storage, can improve the resiliency of our homes, businesses, and organizations, keeping our essential operations running regardless of the weather," added Commissioner Eric Roe. "The county's comprehensive plan, Landscapes3, supports the development of a resilient and clean energy network, and we are glad to see all your interest in this topic."

Kicking off the array of presentations, Ron Celentano of PA Solar Energy Industries Association discussed how on-site solar in Chester County is doing compared to other counties in PA, as well as how PA compares to neighboring states and the outlook for 2024. Next, Leo Menard of StationA talked about first level assessments for new solar projects, separating good prospects from those with more challenges, and suggestions for moving the proposal process forward. Brian Barr of PECO's Green Power Connect division followed with a discussion about PECO's project evaluation department, as well as their relationship with local solar installers.

After a short break, presentations resumed with an overview of tax credits and upcoming state grant programs by Christine Knapp of the US Department of Energy. Renee Riley of the Sustainable Energy Fund followed by highlighting the ways solar projects can be financed through the PA Sustainable Energy Fund, and how Chester County's Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program can tie into a property. David Santoleri of Terra Sol Energies talked next about the connection between on-site solar and on-site energy storage to create resilient and effective micro-grid systems, highlighting an exemplary project in West Grove; and Liz Robinson of Philadelphia Solar Energy Association and Mark Connolly, an energy engineer and member of Chester County's EEAB shared a helpful toolkit for schools to evaluate opportunities for on-site solar and cash-flow. And last (but certainly not least), Andy Meserve of Eos Energy Enterprises talked about the production of non-lithium batteries to help increase the round-the-clock availability of renewable energy in western PA.

"I'd like to extend a big 'thank you' to our amazing EEAB who identified this event as a way the county could help implement our Climate Action Plan and help the Chester County Community, and who then made the event happen. Thank you also to the many organizations that co-hosted this event with us — we are so thankful for your willingness to share this great opportunity with your audiences to help make this event a success," said Commissioner Maxwell.

This event was held at the nth Innovation Center in Coatesville and via Zoom. It was presented by the Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board, Chester County Planning Commission, Chester County Economic Development Council, Smart Energy Initiative of Southeastern PA, PA Solar Energy Industries Association, Exton Region Chamber of Commerce, Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce, Greater West Chester Area Chamber of Commerce, and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. This event was generously sponsored by PECO and H2O Connected.

"And thank you to our sponsor, PECO, for your hard work, for your sponsorship of this event, and providing leadership for and support for advancing solar power in our region. I'd like to also thank Susan Springsteen and H2O Connected who generously donated this space for our use today," said Commissioner Roe.

Presentation slides are available on the Environmental and Energy Board webpage.

In addition to the information provided at the conference, CCPC provides informational solar power resources for residential and commercial properties and municipalities.