2nd Annual Solar Congress a successful day of learning, sharing about solar

By Ben Delman on March 19, 2018
Volunteers sign in attendees at the Solar Congress.

More than 100 solar supporters from across Ohio joined together Saturday at The Wilderness Center in Wilmot for the 2nd Annual Ohio Solar Congress. Wilderness Center Executive Director Jeff Corney and Solar United Neighbors of Ohio Program Director, Luke Sulfridge, kicked of the day with welcome remarks.

The Congress then broke into small group sessions. Gilbert Michaud of Ohio University led a panel discussion with several Ohio installers. They examined the role policy plays in Ohio’s growing solar market. In the second morning session, groups broke off to discuss battery storage and how to overcome local barriers to solar including Home Owners Associations and historic district approvals. Solar homeowners Philip Leppla of Dayton, and Michael Schaal of Powell discussed their experiences.

Gilbert Michaud leads discussion of solar’s impact in Ohio.

At lunch, Congress attendees were treated to an Electric Vehicle Showcase. Solar Congress participants showed off their electric vehicles. A Chevy Volt and Prius Prime were present. The vehicles demonstrated two versions of plug-in hybrids that are now on the market. Both cars operate on batteries, but can use a traditional gasoline motor when more range is needed.

After lunch, the Congress held a panel discussion about two important decision-making bodies: the Ohio General Assembly and the Public Service Commission of Ohio. Sulfridge joined Rachael Belz of Ohio Citizen Action and Mat Roberts of Upgrade Ohio. David Carpenter of Delaware, Ohio also spoke about what it is like to testify at the statehouse. He talked about his experience and how he was unsure at first, because he was not an expert on the subject matter. But, he realized that as a solar homeowner, he had an important story to tell. He encouraged other solar homeowners to speak out as well.

The day wrapped up with an open forum plenary session. This was an opportunity for Congress participants to discuss solar in Ohio and the things its community of solar supporters could do to expand access to solar across the state. Ideas included working with local government to find opportunities to include solar in new building projects.