Sarah Conley-Ballew, executive director of UpGrade Ohio, and Dr. Gilbert Michaud, assistant professor of practice at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, will be representing the region at the 47th Annual National Solar Conference and Summit hosted by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) at the University of Colorado, Boulder on August 5-8, 2018.

The ASES conference returns to Colorado this year, moving north to Boulder, a city with a progressive sustainable energy vision, to maximize renewable energy deployment, and to forge pathways for communities in every state to follow in achieving renewables-driven electrification, climate resilience, and clean-energy driven opportunities for all.

Sarah Conley-Ballew will be discussing the role community choice aggregation can play in deploying local solar energy, and particularly how it can provide a net benefit to low-to-moderate income populations. As leader of the Solar ACCESS team, a seed-funded project led by UpGrade Ohio for the national Department of Energy’s Solar In Your Community Challenge, Conley-Ballew will direct attendees of the “Broadening Access to Solar: Community Solar Vision” panel through the process the Solar ACCESS team undertook in creating a “carbon fee” model for community solar development.

“The ASES Conference offers a valuable opportunity for small communities like ours to share innovative ideas on a national stage. I’m thrilled to be attending this year’s conference, engaging with the best and brightest solar entrepreneurs in the country,” said Conley-Ballew.

Dr. Gilbert Michaud will bring the solar deployment context upward by examining Ohio’s solar energy policy in a state-focused session entitled, “Policy in Action” on Wednesday, August 8th. In this session, Michaud will discuss how Ohio’s energy industry has experienced record growth in installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. Yet, as of 2017, Ohio still ranked just 27th within the U.S. with slightly over 150 total megawatts (MW) of PV installed.

Michaud’s research will evaluate the unique solar energy policy developments in Ohio, such as the recent Renewable Portfolio Standard freeze, and how this has affected installed capacity, employment, and economic development metrics. This research will outline the state’s solar industry employment, salaries, and economic impact, and then discuss projections for the future and policy recommendations.

“It’s always wonderful to have the opportunity to share my research on a national stage and gather feedback from others. ASES is a particularly intriguing venue, as it is inherently multidisciplinary with attendees from academia, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and others,” said Michaud, “This collaborative and shared learning culture will be interesting as we learn more about what other states are doing to incent solar energy, and how that compares to Ohio.”

These presentations at the 2018 ASES conference exemplify the innovative research and program development being done in Athens, Ohio, such as the citizen-funded community solar program created with the carbon fee and electric aggregation. Once initiated, this program will pool citizens together to make smart energy choices for the future. This unique model, as well as other potential innovative programs, policies, and incentives in Ohio, may allow for more solar capacity to be installed and utilized in creative ways, and communities can expect a variety of economic benefits to compound and diffuse across the Buckeye State.