Williamsburg hosts Virginia’s largest-ever Solar Congress

By Ben Delman on November 27, 2019
Attendees at this year’s Virginia Solar Congress gather for a group photo.

More than 200 Virginia solar energy supporters joined together earlier this month for the 4th Annual Virginia Solar Congress. William & Mary College in Williamsburg hosted the event. Attendees traveled from as far as the tip of Southwest Virginia. They met, shared stories, and celebrated solar energy.

The day began with opening remarks from Aaron Sutch. Aaron is the Virginia Program Director for Solar United Neighbors. He spoke about Virginia’s community of solar supporters. He remarked they are both a source of practical action and of inspiration. He recognized key supporters and community members who’ve been vital to its success. He then described policy goals for the coming year and how we will achieve them.

Congress attendees then broke into separate sessions. Some attendees joined together to learn the basics of how solar energy works. Others met to discuss ways to expand solar adoption among non-profit organizations.

A third session welcomed electric cooperative members who launched a public accountability effort. They are fighting on behalf of their fellow members. They want to restore control of the cooperative to the members it serves.

Next, attendees chose between three concurrent sessions. In one, speakers told stories of how they completed grassroots solar projects. A second took a look at electric vehicles and solar. A third described how businesses can make use of solar energy.

Lunch included an electric vehicle showcase. Attendees were also treated to a musical performance by an a cappella group.

The Congress again broke into separate sessions after lunch. Some attendees learned about pairing battery storage with solar for resiliency. Another session brought several solar installers together.

They discussed job opportunities in the solar industry. They also spoke about the kinds of skills prospective solar employees should have. A final session looked at solar equity and how we can ensure all Virginians can access solar.

The day ended with an open forum discussion. Audience members discussed their thoughts and ideas to move solar forward. They discussed how they could reform the way Virginia’s utilities operate. This would enable us to improve our electric grid. Attendees also discussed how to build a solar movement represents all voices.

Plans are already underway for the 2020 Virginia Solar Congress. Drop us a line if you have ideas or would like to help make next year’s event even better! We’d love to hear from you.