Dozens of solar energy supporters from around the state joined together late last month at the Fourth Annual West Virginia Solar Congress. Held at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center in the state’s capital city, the Congress was an opportunity for grassroots solar supporters to meet, share stories, and celebrate solar energy.
The day kicked off with opening remarks from Autumn Long, Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia Program Director. Long emphasized the importance of building a strong solar movement to ensure that West Virginia rises to the occasion as technology and consumer preferences change.
The Congress then broke into separate sessions. First, attendees learned about the basics of photovoltaic solar and about the economic development opportunities solar can provide for West Virginia communities and residents. They also had the opportunity to learn about how solar and electric vehicles (EVs) interact, and about the solar movement’s policy priorities in West Virginia.
At lunch, members of the WV Electric Auto Association brought their personal electric vehicles for the EV Showcase and answered questions about their cars from curious Solar Congress attendees.
After lunch, the Congress held two more presentations. Xavier Walter from the West Virginia Home Builders Association talked with attendees about energy efficiency for homes and businesses, while Long discussed the importance of energy storage and its compatibility with solar energy. Then, local solar homeowners had the opportunity to share their experiences with attendees in a panel-style discussion.
The day ended with an open forum discussion. Participants discussed how to build support for pro-solar policies in the West Virginia legislature, how to expand solar access when legislative strategies fail, and the importance of applying an equity and justice framing when considering energy issues. To cap things off, attendees were invited to attend a post-Congress happy hour where they could sample beers from some of America’s solar-powered breweries.