West Virginia Solar Congress a success

By Autumn Long on May 9, 2018
Autumn Long delivers opening remarks to kick off the Solar Congress.

More than 40 solar supporters from across West Virginia joined together May 5, at West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling for the 3rd Annual West Virginia Solar Congress. The day kicked off with an opening address by Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia Program Director Autumn Long.

The Congress then broke into small-group sessions for the remainder of the morning. Solar United Neighbors of Pennsylvania Program Director Henry McKay led a Solar 101 presentation for attendees new to solar; and Ms. Long presented on Solar + Storage for homes and small businesses. Marty Weirick and Frederick Walker of the WV Electric Auto Association collaborated with electric vehicle (EV) driver and solar homeowner Robert Fernatt for a presentation on EVs, fittingly titled “Driving On Sunshine.” Mr. Fernatt also participated in a discussion panel on community volunteering, along with Mary Ellen Cassidy of the WALS Foundation, and Jean and Bill Ambrose of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.

Solar Congress attendees discuss important solar policy issues during an open forum session.

After lunch, Anya Schoolman, Founder and Executive Director of Solar United Neighbors, reviewed the West Virginians for Energy Freedom coalition’s successful 2017 campaign to oppose FirstEnergy’s proposed transfer of the Pleasants power plant. Schoolman’s insights into this successful advocacy campaign flowed naturally into an open-forum plenary session to wrap up the day’s events. This was an opportunity for Congress participants to discuss the future of solar in West Virginia and ways to expand access to solar across the state. Ideas included creating a West Virginia Solar Trust; pursuing regulatory and policy changes via the state legislature and Public Service Commission (PSC); advocating for solar to local elected officials and business leaders; and working with local governments and business owners to include solar in new building projects.

The event concluded with a Solar Happy Hour hosted by the WALS Foundation at the First State Capitol Building. Happy hour attendees enjoyed beverages and snacks while discussing the day’s highlights and lessons learned. The success of West Virginia’s 3rd annual Solar Congress left everyone in hopeful spirits for solar’s bright future in the Mountain State.

Click here to watch videos of the day’s presentations and download copies of presentation slideshows.