Institute Director speaks at White House panel

White House Community Solar Summit
November 01, 2016

On November 1, 2016, the White House organized a pioneering Community Solar Finance Summit to explore strategies to unlock financing opportunities for community solar – one of the fastest growing business models in the energy industry. The Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative and the Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution Fund co-hosted the event, which featured prominent decision makers such as Dan Utech, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, and David Friedman, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The GW Solar Institute's Director was asked to speak on a panel about ways Community Solar could be used to reach low and moderate income customers along with the heads of Posigen and Everyday Energy Thomas Neyhart and Scott Sarem. Ronen drew on his research in the area which has been a key focus area for the Institute since 2014.  

The Obama Administration is committed to expanding access to solar power for all Americans, laying out a goal last July of installing one gigawatt of solar by 2020 that would benefit low and moderate income households. Community solar presents a vital resource for consumers and could represent 32%–49% of the distributed photovoltaic solar market by 2020. In 2015, the Administration launched the Community Solar Partnership to expand access to this innovative approach to more people in more communities. Over 130 partners have participated in the Partnership and have identified challenges and solutions for increasing access to solar energy.

Financing has proven to be a key challenge for advancing community solar. One of White House's primary goals for this summit was to educate organizations committed to using financial tools to improve low and moderate income communities such as community banks, credit unions, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) about how community solar may represent a unique opportunity for meet their missions.

Community Solar Finance Summit

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 | White House EEOB South Court Auditorium

11:30 Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Dan Utech, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
  • David Friedman, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Annie Donovan, Director, CDFI Fund, U.S. Department of the Treasury  

11:50 The Opportunity: State of Community Solar Market

  • Dan Boff, SunShot Initiative

12:10 Quick Talk: Why Solar Makes Sense for Community Lenders

  • Mike McGuire, SPREADDS

12:30 Lunch Break

1:10 From the Field: Success and Challenges to Financing Community Solar

  • Melissa Malkin-Weber, Self Help Credit Union
  • Michael Glass, Alpine Bank
  • Trenton Allen, Sustainable Capital Advisors
  • Moderator: Mary Rottman, Solar Energy Finance Association

1:50 Reaching Low and Moderate Income Customers

  • Thomas Neyhart, Posigen
  • Scott Sarem, Everyday Energy  
  • Amit Ronen, GW Solar Institute
  • Moderator: Elaine Ulrich, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy  

2:30 Q&A  discussion: Remaining Challenges to Financing Community Solar

3:00 Coffee Break

3:20 Fitting Community Solar Finance into the Regulatory Framework (40 minutes)

  • Sharon Canavan, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  • Mike Reedich, Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Jennifer Riegel, Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Q&A (15 Minutes)

4:15 Closing & Call to Action  

4:30 Adjourn