More than three hundred solar practitioners convene virtually to examine major policy and market barriers
WASHINGTON – With major state policy wins in the rearview mirror, the local solar industry is taking on a new set of challenges. The Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA) annual member conference, Solar Focus, highlighted the importance of close engagement with rural jurisdictions, communities of color, and integrating emerging technologies like battery storage.
”Economic development projects, related to energy, have to prioritize historically disadvantaged communities,” advised State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Solar Focus Keynote speaker. Senator McClellan was the chief patron of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which rapidly expanded the Virginia solar market by establishing a goal of over 16 gigawatts of solar by 2035.
Throughout the conference representatives of local solar firms highlighted how the industry’s engagement with local jurisdictions – on siting, permitting, and economic development – will be a major factor in its ability to grow in the Mid-Atlantic region. Local workforce development initiatives were flagged as especially critical in Virginia, as the state’s solar labor force needs to grow quickly to meet demand. The Biden-Harris Administration has already signaled it will prioritize expanding the job benefits of clean energy to marginalized communities.
The integration of solar and storage technologies is another major factor for the regional trade association, inspiring a rebrand from the MD-DC-VA Solar Energy Industries Association to the Chesapeake Solar & Storage Association, or CHESSA.
“As the economics of energy storage have significantly improved, solar companies are coupling projects with batteries,” remarks Frank DePew, Founder & CEO of Urban Grid, a member of MDV-SEIA and local solar and storage developer. “The technology provides immense value to the grid, especially by reducing our peak demand on generation assets when electricity is most expensive, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”
MDV-SEIA’s Executive Director, David Murray, concluded that the industry is accustomed to change. “The last four years, solar firms were hit with tariffs on panels, steel and aluminum. Nonetheless the local industry grew and exceeded expectations of observers. 2021 brings a new set of challenges – most of which are positive- and our success will be measured by our ability to evolve.”
ABOUT MDV-SEIA / CHESSA
The Maryland-DC-Delaware-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association, now the Chesapeake Solar & Storage Association (CHESSA) represents installers, developers, financiers, manufacturers, distributors of solar and energy storage technology in the Chesapeake region, specifically Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
ABOUT SOLAR FOCUS
Solar Focus is the annual member conference of the Chesapeake Solar & Storage Association. 2020 marked the 14th annual conference and first virtual convening of solar installers, developers, and other trade professionals in the solar and storage industry. To learn more about Solar Focus, please visit https://www.solarfocusconference.org.
Executive Director, MDV-SEIA
(202) 780 9563