On the heels of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) designation of the 2020s as The Solar+ Decade, CS Energy headed to Atlanta to attend the Solar Power Southeast conference. The conference is presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA).
The conference is focused on a region that is strategically important to industry growth. This is evident with Florida and North Carolina being in SEIA’s 2018 “Top Ten Solar States, ranked by cumulative solar capacity installed. Georgia, where the conference was held, comes in at #11, while South Carolina and Virginia are in the top 20. These rankings are likely to only get better as South Carolina recently passed legislation that is a positive for the solar industry, and Virginia’s solar market is taking off from our perspective, and is an exciting place to build solar projects right now.
Abigail Ross Hopper, President & CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), kicked off the festivities with a talk that went over the latest data on industry growth. She discussed the vision and objectives behind The Solar+ Decade initiative, and touched upon some of the industry’s challenges and opportunities. Additionally, she filled the audience in on SEIA’s latest advocacy efforts on the legislative front. One of the biggest challenges in our industry is finding and attracting talent fast enough to keep up with industry growth. While attracting talent to our industry it is important that we are attracting diversity in talent as well, which was covered in detail during a Thursday session, “Training and Retraining a Diverse Solar Workforce,” with Eddie Barnett, Training Coordinator, National Association of Minority Contractors, (NAMC) and Don Tonic, President/G.M., Solar Plus, LLC. The panel was moderated by Dana Clare Redden, CEO, Solar Concierge. Improving diversity of our work force is an important goal for the solar industry.
Another topic that continues to be important in the solar industry is “community solar”, and that topic was discussed during a panel titled “Community Solar in the Southeast” that was moderated on Wednesday by Jen Szaro, VP Research and Education at Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). SEPA does a great job of co-producing the event along with SEIA. SEPA is a non-profit organization that “envisions a carbon-free world by 2050.” Community Solar has been rapidly growing the past 3 years, and CS Energy expects that trend to continue in the Southeast region. In fact, in March of this year, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) announced plans for a program called FPL SolarTogether. If approved, FPL SolarTogether will be the largest community solar program in the United States.
Among attendees, the hot topics are solar panel pricing and concerns and ideas around the Safe Harboring of solar projects in 2019. There is no shortage of important issues to cover when it comes to the solar industry, and the overall atmosphere on the show floor is one of excitement and enthusiasm. Like the industry itself, the show seems to be growing fast year-over-year.
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About the Author
Todd Jensen is a Business Development Manager for CS Energy (formerly Conti Solar.) He is focused on building relationships with developers, utilities, municipalities, and co-ops building solar projects nationwide. A native of Ohio and graduate of the University of Central Florida, Todd lives in Palm City, Florida with his family.