Policy Track: Local and State


Achyut Shrestha


States and local governments have in many cases championed renewable energy efforts. Speakers in this session will discuss a variety of different efforts that they have pioneered that might serve as a role model for other regions to follow. We will hear about MD program that supports energy burden in low-income families in MD, updates from cities and islands to reach 100% renewable energy, local government’s efforts in emission curtailments, the rise of community solar projects, and others.


Jun 24 2020


2:15 pm - 3:45 pm




  • Damian Pitt
    Damian Pitt
    Virginia Commonwealth University

    Dr. Pitt is an Associate Professor and chair of the Urban and Regional Studies and Planning program at Virginia Commonwealth University. His work examines opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through energy conservation, renewable energy use, land use and transportation policies. He has written numerous academic articles and professional reports, including recent studies for MDV-SEIA, the City of Richmond’s Office of Sustainability and the Richmond Region Energy Alliance (RREA). His recent research investigates policy and planning issues around the integration of distributed solar energy and other distributed energy resources with the electrical grid.

    Presentation Title: Economic Benefits and Political Challenges for Distributed Solar in Virginia

    Description: This presentation will discuss the economic benefits of distributed solar energy in Virginia, a state where recent changes in political control have created an environment seemingly ripe for improved clean energy policy. We will demonstrate how a proposed target of 2,500 MW of new distributed solar would create over 29,000 jobs in the solar energy sector, plus another 18,000 “indirect” and “induced” jobs, for over $7 billion in total economic impact. We will also step outside these numbers and discuss how complex political realities make the case for distributed solar even more challenging than it appears on the surface.

  • David Comis
    David Comis
    Maryland Energy Administration

    David is a Senior Energy Program Manager at the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA). His focus areas include: solar energy, energy storage, nuclear energy and grid resilience. Previously, he helped the Department of Energy develop their first Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, as well as support the Federal Energy Management Program in the areas of renewable energy and technology deployment. David’s formal education includes a B.S. in Control Systems Engineering from the United States Naval Academy, a M.S. in Management from National-Louis University, and a M.S. in Energy Policy and Climate Change from Johns Hopkins University.

    Presentation Title: Resiliency Hubs in Maryland

    Description: Resiliency hubs in low income neighborhoods provide islands of electrical power when the grid is down for those who may not have the means to relocate during extended grid outages. During normal operations, the systems provide clean energy and the potential for load shifting to the supported building.

  • Gilbert Michaud
    Gilbert Michaud
    Ohio University

    Dr. Gilbert Michaud is an Assistant Professor of Practice at the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. Overall, his research focuses on renewable energy policy, electric utility regulation, economic and workforce development, state politics, and public policy theory. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy & Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Presentation Title: What are the Characteristics of U.S. States with High Rates of Community Solar Deployed?

    Description: This research is important in the way that it comprehensively assesses the various potential drivers of community solar deployment across the U.S. Some states have been able to develop robust markets via enabling legislation, but community solar has also emerged in states without formal policy, such as those with innovative utilities, higher incomes, progressive political preferences, and other factors. This study helps quantify the relative impact of these various factors, utilizing a suite of secondary data to understand the key community solar drivers and best courses of action for additional deployment looking toward the future.

  • Laura Rigell
    Laura Rigell
    Solar Manager at Philadelphia Energy Authority

    In her role as Solar Manager at the Philadelphia Energy Authority, Laura leads PEA’s solar efforts, which include coordinating Solarize Philly, Philadelphia’s first citywide solarize campaign to help Philadelphians go solar at home, developing, implementing and fundraising for new solar job training programs, and supporting commercial, school and other solar work in Philadelphia. Laura also leads stakeholder engagement related to renewable energy and climate change for PEA.

  • Panteli Stathopulos

    Co-presnter for the ZEN project.

  • Rachel Smucker
    Rachel Smucker
    Virginia Policy and Development Manager,

    Rachel joined MDV-SEIA as the Virginia Policy and Development Manager in July 2019. In this role, Rachel is responsible for implementing legislative and regulatory campaigns related to state-level solar energy policy in Virginia, and growing and managing membership within the Commonwealth. Previously, she worked as the Policy Analyst for Secure Futures, a commercial-scale solar developer and member of MDV-SEIA, coordinating the company’s outreach to state government officials and other key stakeholders and representing the company in a variety of policy discussions and stakeholder processes. Rachel brings several years of experience in marketing and public relations, as well as a passion for positively impacting communities through her professional work. As a clean energy advocate, she is driven by the hope and ambition that implementing cleaner electricity will lead to a more just and equitable world.

  • Rahim Khoie
    Rahim Khoie
    University of the Pacific

    Rahim Khoie received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1986. He is currently a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where he is also the director of the engineering physics program. He has held professorship at the Universities of Nevada and Florida. His areas of interest include renewable energy, photovoltaics, and semiconductor quantum and nano devices. He has published more than 100 articles in journals and proceedings and has given numerous invited presentations at conferences and scientific meetings. He also has received a number of research grants as well as teaching awards. Dr. Khoie has been member of a number of professional societies including ASES, IEEE, ASEE, and SPIE and has served in various chair positions including Pacific’s Academic Council, and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as IEEE Student Activities and ASEE Southwest Section.

    Presentation Title: The Carbon Emissions of Wind Power; A Study of Emissions of Windmill in the Panhandle of Texas

    Description: The wind power in the United States has been expanding rapidly over the last several years. For the twelve months ending September 2019, the United States generated 286.6 terawatt-hour of wind power, roughly 7% of all generated electricity. A similar trend is seen in China and Europe which is expected to continue over the next decade.

    There is no debate that electricity generation from coal and other fossil fuels must be stopped immediately. There is also no doubt that our electricity generation should become 100% renewable as soon as possible. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has concluded that the time has reached for the need to remove carbon from the atmosphere, if we are to slow down the catastrophic consequences of continued rise in total global emissions. This necessitates a careful study of the carbon-neutrality of renewable generation in the U.S. and across the globe.
    Our study shows that the wind power generation in 2019 has generated roughly 4 million tons (MT) of emission, which is 98.2% less emissions than if this power had been generated from coal power plants. This 4 MT emission needs to be removed from the atmosphere, for the wind power to be truly carbon neutral. We are studying the carbon footprint of solar photovoltaic and will report our findings in future conferences.

  • Roma Stibravy
    Roma Stibravy
    NGO Sustainability

    I have been working on development programs and projects in the developing world, through the United Nations and non-profits, throughout my career. I started on renewable energy in the early 90s, working with and representing at the United Nations Solar Cooker International. Since then I became president of the UN Committee on Sustainable Development, then created in 2009 NGO Sustainability. We are committed to promoting sustainability/renewable globally in terms of the SDGs, hold events at the United Nations, produce a newsletter, train interns/associates.

    Presentation Title: Converting a decommissioned power plant into a solar array

    Description: Fairfield County, Connecticut during Hurricane Sandy was over a week without an energy source. Creating the solar array would insure some energy security, healthier air, reaching the state’s 2050 0Carbon objectives.

  • Sarah Townes_
    Sarah Townes_
    American Solar Energy Society

    Sarah Townes is the CFO for the American Solar Energy Society, and the founder and director of ASES’s newest program the Zero Emissions Network which provides micro-grants and mentorship to individuals and businesses to help them reduce their carbon footprint. Prior to her tenure with ASES she was and is a singing teacher for 25 years, as the founder and director of Boulder Voiceworks singing school. She loves life, music, the environment, and ASES’s annual Solar conference.

    Presentation Title: Zero Emission Network; A Pilot Program For Carbon Emission Reduction Through Distributed Local Micro-Generation

    Description: The Zero Emission Network is an exciting pilot project initiated by ASES and has attracted a strong core team determined to help the public take steps toward lowing their carbon emissions in many areas of life. In summary our 3-fold goals are:
    1) Through micro-grants help elevate lower income communities to realize their place as leaders in GHG reduction within the environmental movement.
    2) Help each location town by town, city by city, county by county, to track and see progress reducing their community’s GHG emissions.
    3) Educate and empower ourselves as ZEN team members, ASES members and ZEN participants, to track and take actions day by day which reduce our own GHG emissions so that we can serve as mentors and be examples for others who are ready to change their habits and help heal our precious atmosphere.
    The project seeks funding from local and national sources and distributes the funds to local customers for installation of small to medium size distributed solar electricity generation and other GHG reducing technologies. The rapid and initial success of the ZEN program in securing its first grant indicates the readiness of funding sources to help with this project. The project has very low overhead and is scalable to the availability of the local funding sources and the local needs of its customers. We believe that our presentation to the SOLAR 2020 audience will result in significant interest in replicating the project in other locales, especially by participating students, faculty, and solar industry representatives. Finally, Zero Emissions must be a global goal, and as important as it is to reduce local emissions, it is only through a massive global effort that we will achieve Zero Emissions, and hence the need for implementation of the ZEN program and similarly action-oriented models across the U.S. and the globe.

  • Steven Smiley
    Steven Smiley
    Smiley Energy

    Mr. Smiley is a semi-retired energy economist that has been engaged in the practical implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and policies since 1980. He has worked under contract with international wind turbine manufactures, Indian Tribes, electric utilities, and solar installers. He has developed and permitted numerous wind and solar projects, including the first USA wind power green pricing program working under contract with a municipal electric utility. That project was awarded the “Energy Innovator of the Year award” by the American Public Power Association. A nine minute video on that project can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjz9mgNRcnA

    Presentation Title: Practical Implementation of a 10 Year 100% Renewable Energy Community Plan

    Description: This presentation describes the practical implementation of real promulgated policies and proposed projects to achieve 100% renewable energy in ten years for a community of 15,000 population. A Localized benefit/cost analysis will demonstrate the economic advantages of this solution, contrasted with business as usual.

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