About Solar United Neighbors of Virginia

2016 Virginia Solar CongressWe are Virginians who demand our right to go solar because solar ensures energy freedom, creates good local jobs, and makes the electric grid resilient.

Our vision

We envision a clean, equitable energy system that directs control and benefits back to local communities, with solar on every roof and money in every pocket.

Our mission

We’re a community of people building a new energy system and rooftop solar is the cornerstone. We help people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights.

Our partners

We work with amazing partners to spread the solar word. Our partner organizations range from nonprofits to municipal governments, universities to community organizations, and individual “super volunteers” to houses of worship.

Some of our awesome partners in Virginia over the last few years have included:

Virginia advisory board

Our Virginia Advisory Board is made up of solar supporters from around the Commonwealth. Each member brings a unique background and area of expertise to help more Virginians go solar.

Ruth McElroy Amundsen

Ruth is an active member of the Hampton Roads solar community, working with the Hampton Roads Solar Home Tour and as a shareholder activist for Dominion Resources. Her home features a green roof with solar panels for both electricity and hot water, a rainwater cistern, a permeable driveway, and an electric car. She is a thermal engineer at NASA Langley.
Dennis Atwood

Dennis has served as Shenandoah County coordinator for the Massanutten Regional Solar Co-op since May 2015. He joined the group through his work with Climate Action Alliance of the Valley. Dennis also serves on the boards of the Shenandoah Forum and Shenandoah County Historical Society, among other civic engagements. Dennis retired after a 40-year career as a federal civil servant, mostly in emergency management preparedness.
Heather Braithwaite

Heather has worked in the clean energy finance and policy fields for almost a decade. She is a senior associate with Harcourt Brown & Carey in Energy and Finance. Heather helps develop and deploy clean energy finance programs, assembling deals between private investors and private sector customers needing financing for energy efficiency projects, and advising city/state entities to help them support deployment of capital into various clean energy lending vehicles.
 Pickett Craddock Pickett Craddock is the owner of the Oak Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, which went solar in 2012. Oak Grove and the town of Halifax co-sponsored the Halifax County Solar Co-op. Oak Grove added 32 solar panels to its array with the co-op. Oak Grove Plantation recently won the Virginia Green award for its second year as the greenest bed and breakfast in Virginia. Pickett is a longtime educator/school administrator with Amazing Life Games pre-school in Washington, D.C. where she served as the director and program director from 1981 until 2008.
 Howard Crystal Howard Crystal is an environmental attorney with more than two decades of experience pursuing safe energy, public lands and wildlife protection, government transparency, and public health initiatives. He has litigated extensively in the D.C. Circuit and other courts, represented clients in Congress, and participated in agency administrative proceedings.
 H. Bishop Dansby Bishop currently serves as a member of the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps; group leader for Citizens’ Climate Lobby; and member of various local, state, and national climate change/ environmental organizations. His educational and professional background is in engineering and law. He worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry and practiced law in Florida and Virginia. Bishop also founded and ran a business in GIS and land records for several years. He taught as a university adjunct instructor on legal subjects.
 Kimberly Davis Kimberly applies compliance and policy solutions in environmental and urban infrastructure planning. Kimberly has focused on renewable energy since 2007. She managed finance and compliance for about 300 successful DG solar projects under the 1603 program; and served as technical program director for the North America PV conference in San Jose and SPI Orlando solar conferences. Kimberly is currently president of her consulting firm.
Carl Espy, IV Carl has served as Halifax town manager since 2003. In this role, he worked with a group of more than 50 residents and business owners in Halifax County who successfully formed a co-op to go solar. Carl is currently a trustee of the Chastain Home for Gentlewomen in Halifax. He worked with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to establish a new “Town of Halifax Courthouse Historic District.”
 Charles Gerena Charles is the founder of Drive Electric RVA, an advocacy group that promotes electric vehicles as a fun, practical transportation alternative that also reduces energy consumption and air pollution. He manages the web presence of the Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. He currently focuses on using the tools of storytelling and digital communication to make economics relevant to people’s daily lives.
 Beth Lohman

Beth helped launch the solar group in Blacksburg, one of the first such campaigns in Virginia. Over the last few years, she has worked collaboratively with elected representatives and solar advocates from across the state to advance renewable energy opportunities in Virginia. She is a planning and preparedness program specialist for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. In her spare time, Beth works on renewable energy issues affecting the New River Valley.
Joy Loving Joy has helped homeowners go solar across three co-ops. Her solar system supplies all the electricity her home needs. She continues to advocate for more solar power in Virginia whenever she can.She and her husband moved to Rockingham County two decades ago. They have three children and four grandchildren. Joy is a native Virginian and a graduate of Virginia Tech.
Gilbert Michaud Gilbert earned a Ph.D. in public policy & administration at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has worked on a technical review of community solar prospects for the City of Richmond, as well as a feasibility study for a commercial sector bulk purchase program in the region. Previously, he worked for the U.S. Business Executive Journal as the lead researcher for the Energy & Power segment, producing more than 40 case studies. His research focuses on economic development and state renewable energy policies, particularly those that encourage the use of solar photovoltaic panels.
 Damian Pitt Damian is an assistant professor of urban and regional studies and planning at Virginia Commonwealth University. He incorporates service learning into many of his courses, and his students have completed energy policy research projects for us an other Virginia groups. His research examines efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through state and local government approaches to renewable energy, energy conservation, transportation, and land use. Before entering academia, he worked for Cogan Owens Cogan, a land use, environmental planning, and public outreach consulting firm in Portland, Oregon.
 Chris Somers
Chris served as Arlington County’s point person for the Arlington Solar Co-op. He works as an energy analyst for the county’s Rethink Energy Team. He aims to realize the Arlington Community Energy Plan’s goals of reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions for residents and businesses. Previously, he created and managed the energy program at Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that provides free repairs to low-income homeowners.
 Scott Sklar Scott is a long-time renewable energy advocate, having served as the head of both the Solar Energy Industries Association and the National BioEnergy Industries Association. He now runs The Stella Group, Ltd., a technology optimization and strategic policy firm advancing the utilization of clean, distributed energy applications. He also serves as steering committee chair of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and sits on the national Boards of Directors of the non-profit Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. Scott serves as part-time executive director of the Center for Small Business and the Environment and is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University.
 Sekar Veerappan Sekar has more than two decades of renewable energy experience. He was a leader of the Richmond Community Solar Co-op. A mechanical engineer, Sekar holds an executive MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University.Sekar is also an active corporate member of The Richmond Temple, Hindu Center of Virginia.
 Billy Weitzenfeld

Billy is the executive director of the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals (AECP). Before this, he was the weatherization director for New River Community Action. He is a certified Home Energy rater, holds a tradesman license as a Master in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC), is a licensed Residential Building Energy Analyst, is a past director on the board of the U.S. Green Building Council SW Virginia Chapter, serves on the Virginia Weatherization Policy Advisory Council, is a board member of Sustain Floyd, a member of the City of Roanoke Clean and Green Committee, a member of the Virginia State Corporation Commission Consumer Education Advisory Board, and the past executive director of the Sustainable Living Education Center.
 Larry Wohlers Larry took a lead role in building the Rappahannock County Solar Co-op. He and his wife Ann retired and moved to Rappahannock County in the spring of 2014. He has long been interested in alternative energy for housing.

Larry worked 36 years for the U.S. Department of State at numerous postings around the world.

 

Contact us

Get in touch directly with any of our Virginia team via the contact info in our profiles. Or, for more general Virginia inquiries, contact VAteam@solarunitedneighbors.org.

Aaron Sutch
Aaron Sutch

Aaron Sutch

Virginia Program Director

Aaron understands the power of education and outreach to unite people. From his days as a zoo educator to his years teaching in middle school classrooms, Aaron is adept at bringing together diverse communities through information exchange. He brings this talent to each of his solar information sessions. Aaron uses his educational skills to welcome people into the Virginia solar community and to empower them to make change.

Contact
aaron@solarunitedneighbors.org
804-372-5032

Aaron Sutch

Virginia Program Director

Aaron understands the power of education and outreach to unite people. From his days as a zoo educator to his ...

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Ian Reichardt
Ian Reichardt

Ian Reichardt

Go Solar Program Coordinator

Before joining the Solar United Neighbors team, Ian worked in rural Ecuador, studying the effects of a hydroelectric dam on nearby farming communities and working to protect those farmers’ water rights. This experience left him with a more nuanced understanding of the ways energy production impacts our society and environment. Ian is excited to be back in the states, working toward a sustainable, equitable energy system. When he’s not working, biking, or with friends, you can find Ian with a guitar, book, and/or craft brew in hand.

Contact
ian@solarunitedneighbors.org
202-888-3601

Ian Reichardt

Go Solar Program Coordinator

Before joining the Solar United Neighbors team, Ian worked in rural Ecuador, studying the effects of a hydroel ...

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Carra Cheslin
Carra Cheslin

Carra Cheslin

Director of Engagement

Carra is passionate about connecting, activating, and engaging folks from all walks of life in the good fight to protect our mother earth. She has a deep connection to southern coastal Maine where she has spent much of her life treasuring the tidal marsh areas and beaches. The dots connected for Carra when she studied abroad in the Brazilian Amazon and felt small in such an immense and interconnected ecosystem. Carra joined Solar United Neighbors to impact tangible on the ground solutions and mobilize more folks to get involved with spreading the word about solar in meaningful ways. Carra loves cooking, skiing and being outside and is certified as a Wilderness First Responder and Master Gardener.

Contact
carra@solarunitedneighbors.org
202-854-9815

Carra Cheslin

Director of Engagement

Carra is passionate about connecting, activating, and engaging folks from all walks of life in the good fight ...

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Ben Delman
Ben Delman

Ben Delman

Communications Director

As a six-year-old, Ben asked his sitting-senator if he could correctly spell “potato.” Since then, Ben has continued trying to put his big mouth to good use. He enjoys communicating the benefits an equitable, solar powered energy system provides and its tangible benefits for everyone. Ben hopes one day to see his beloved Cubs win a World Series, again.

Contact
ben@solarunitedneighbors.org
202-888-3602

Ben Delman

Communications Director

As a six-year-old, Ben asked his sitting-senator if he could correctly spell “potato.” Since then, Ben has ...

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