Watch Out Solar, They’re Coming For You: Anticipating and Winning Solar Development Battles

Includes a Live Event on 06/10/2020 at 3:00 PM (EDT)

As the wind energy industry has matured, large-scale wind projects are facing increasing challenges in siting and public acceptance. Though earlier in its deployment, it is becoming clear that utility-scale solar is facing many of the same challenges. Solar and wind energy developers have an opportunity to learn from the lessons of their colleagues in the utility-scale wind and solar sector and get ahead of siting pitfalls and opposition activism. This panel will review real world case studies of wind and solar development challenges in multiple markets, discussing lessons learned and tactics for community engagement and effective siting. The panel will include presentations on successful strategies for messaging solar projects; accurately anticipating public acceptance risk; addressing emerging issues around solar, understanding potential conflicts related to agriculture, mineral rights and real estate and mobilizing public support.

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Peter Gray (Moderator)

VP of Client Services, Aileron Communications

Peter Gray has provided communications and community relations support to wind, solar and storage developers for over a decade. After years of managing community relations alongside ACCIONA's wind development team, he began working with SEIA, the Illinois Solar Energy Association and a number of private developers to support the rapid rollout of utility-scale and community solar in Illinois as well as battery storage projects in multiple states. Experience with community relations for wind development informed tactics that built support for and corrected misconceptions about solar projects. Gray also leads communications for the Path to 100 coalition, a joint legislative effort by AWEA, SEIA and over 70 renewable energy businesses to expand Illinois' RPS. He is the Director of Client Services for Aileron Communications, a strategic communications firm focused on the clean energy and environmental sectors.

Stephen Miller, J.D.

Senior Partner, Jones Walker LLP

Steve Miller is a real estate and oil & gas attorney in Texas for 30+ years dealing with land use issues in connection with energy projects, including electrical power projects in Texas and internationally. As an extension of his real estate and energy background, Steve has represented various independent power producers in domestic and international transactions related to the development and construction of greenfield power projects and in the purchase and sale of existing power projects (including mergers and acquisitions) and related electrical power infrastructure. Steve represented the developer of a 1,000-megawatt greenfield combined-cycle electric generation facility in Texas and represented the same developer in the sale of the project under development to another developer. He has also advised clients in the purchase of gas turbines and other heavy equipment related to electrical generation and production, including the acquisition of 32 gas turbines from General Electric. More online here:

David Loomis

Professor of Economics, Executive Director, Institute for Regulatory Policy Studies, Illinois State University

I am Professor of Economics at Illinois State University. I joined the Department in 1996 after almost 12 years of work at Bell Atlantic (now part of Verizon).  I was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 2002 and promoted to Full Professor in 2010.

I am Executive Director of the Institute for Regulatory Policy Studies (IRPS). The IRPS, which is housed within the Department of Economics, seeks to provide a vital link between students, academicians, regulators, consumer advocates, and industry. The Institute provides input into the curriculum, internships for students, state-level workshops, and research.

I am co-Founder and Director of the Center for Renewable Energy. The Center works to meet the growing need for education, outreach and research in the area of renewable energy. 

Laura Abram

Director, Project Execution & Public Affairs, First Solar

Laura Abram is Director of Project Execution and Public Affairs for First Solar, a leading U.S. manufacturer and global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar energy solutions with over 25 gigawatts (GW) shipped worldwide.  She is responsible for providing leadership of the company’s permitting, real estate, interconnection and public affairs efforts for approximately 6,000 megawatts (MW) of large-scale solar projects in the U.S.  For more than a decade, Laura has collaborated across counties throughout the United States and federal agencies within the Department of Interior (DOI) to develop large-scale power plants on private and public lands, including the first and largest solar power plants on federal and tribal lands.


Watch Out Solar Webinar
06/10/2020 at 3:00 PM (EDT)   |  60 minutes
06/10/2020 at 3:00 PM (EDT)   |  60 minutes Please click the button to join the webinar.