Online Courses

Solar in your Community - Teams

Solar Curriculum



Interactive Sessions Schedule


We are excited to announce that all the teams in the Solar in Your Community Challenge can attend a series of online classes covering five topics: Solar Basics, Introduction to LMI Policies & Principles, Solar Project Design and Installation, Customer Acquisition, and Solar Project Finance. Check out the full schedule below!

Our goal is to ensure that everyone understands the basics and has adequate resources to improve their knowledge.

Each topic is covered in two 2-hour online classes or webinars scheduled on Thursdays or Fridays (see schedule). They will also be recorded and available online. All team members and other interested parties are encouraged to attend, participate, and engage the experts teaching these classes. Experts teaching these classes will also have office hours and will help answer questions.


All interactive sessions are scheduled at 12:00 pm ET for two hours. 

DateOnline Class TopicExpert(s)
2017
Friday, September 29Solar Basics (Session 1)Meister Consultants Group
Friday, October 06Intro LMI Policy and Principles (Session 1)Clean Energy States Alliance
Friday, October 13Guest Speaker: Global and U.S. Solar Market UpdateDavid Feldman, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Friday, October 20Solar Basics (Session 2)Meister Consultants Group
Friday, November 03Project Design/Install (Session 1)Meister Consultants Group
Friday, November 17Intro LMI Policy and Principles (Session 2)Clean Energy States Alliance
Friday, December 01Project Design/Install (Session 2)Meister Consultants Group
Friday, December 8Guest Speaker: Running a Solarize CampaignKenneth Gillingham, Yale University
2018
Friday, January 12Customer Acquisition (Session 1)Meister Consultants Group
Friday, January 19Solar Project Finance (Session 1)Meister Consultants Group
Friday, February 02Customer Acquisition (Session 2)Meister Consultants Group
Friday, February 09Solar Project Finance (Session 2)Meister Consultants Group



Solar Basics: Introduction to Solar Technology and Solar Markets



Course description: Upon completion of this course, team participants will feel comfortable and confident in their role in supporting solar development in their local community, including the ability to speak to the benefits of solar energy, answer common questions about solar energy, and dispel myths about solar energy systems. Beyond the training, team members will be able to access and understand the types of resources which are helpful for addressing solar policy in their community.


Instructors: 

  • Kalee Whitehouse, Meister Consultants Group
  • Chad Laurent, Meister Consultants Group

Full Solar Basics Outline & Reading List: link


Session 1 Video Links:

Session 2 Video Links:


Slides: The slides from Session 1 can be downloaded here and from session 2 here

Forum Link: Discuss or ask questions in the forum (must be logged in to access).



Principles and Policies for Low and Moderate Income Solar



Course description: This four-hour course will cover the basics of low and moderate income (LMI) solar policy and principles. It will cover financing strategies, direct incentives, consumer education, community engagement, solar+storage, and community solar, and will include case studies of successful programs.


Instructors:

  • Warren Leon, Clean Energy States Alliance
  • Ben Paulos, Clean Energy States Alliance (Board) and Paulos Analysis
  • Diana Chace, Clean Energy States Alliance
  • Todd Olinsky-Paul, Clean Energy States Alliance
  • Melanie Santiago-Mosher, Vote Solar

Session 1 Videos and Readings (Reading List)(Full Outline)

Session 2 Mini-outline (Full Outline):

  • Presenting Solar Information to LMI Consumers
  • Engaging LMI Communities
  • Solar+Storage for LMI Communities
  • Community Solar for LMI Consumers

Global and U.S. Solar Market Update



Course description: Guest speaker Dave Feldman from NREL will present on the current state of the solar market and take questions from teams.

Outline:

  • Global Market Update
  • State and Federal Update
  • U.S. Deployment
  • U.S. Pricing
  • Global Manufacturing
  • Component Pricing
  • Market Activity

 The recorded video from this webinar is not yet available. Slides can be downloaded here.


Project Design/Install



Course description: This 4-hour course is designed to help your team gain foundational introductory knowledge about solar project design and installation in the U.S. You will learn about how key design and equipment decisions are made; “best practice” installation, permitting, zoning, interconnection, inspection, and operating and maintenance procedures; how to screen potential sites for suitability; how to evaluate solar RFPs; and installation “do’s” and “don’ts”. After attending the course, you should feel comfortable evaluating solar installer quotes, and with the basics of supervising basic solar PV installations.


Instructor:

  • Graham Stevens, Meister Consultants Group, graham.stevens@mc-group.com

Full Outline and Reading List (link)

Session 1 Outline (slides):

  • Installation Types (video link)
    • Topics: Types of PV Installations, Mounting Structures, Transmission, Other Locations, Barriers and Drivers for Each
    • Reading: Guidebook for Solar Photovoltaic Projects in Philadelphia - Solar America Cities Program (link)
    • Reading: Re-Powering America's Land - EPA (link)
  • Siting (video link)
    • Topics: Structural and Civil Considerations, Utility Considerations, Economic Considerations, Other Considerations
    • Reading: Structural Loads for Solar PV Systems and Buildings - Joe Cain (link)
    • Reading: Handbook on Siting Renewable Energy Projects While Addressing Environmental Issues - NREL (link)
    • Tool: PV Watts Calculator - NREL (link)
  • Off-Site Procedures (video link)
    • Topics: Off-Site Procedure Overview, Permitting, Zoning, Interconnection, Inspection
    • Reading: Solar Energy Project Development Issues: Preliminary Considerations - IREC (link)
    • Reading: Planning and Zoning for Solar Energy: Updated Edition - American Planning Association (link)
    • Reading: Solar and Grid Stability: A Primer for Local Governments - The Solar Foundation / ICMA (link)
  • Session 1 Worksheet (link)

Session 2 Outline:

  • Bid Evaluation (video link)
    • Topics: RFP Best Practices, Bid Evaluation Best Practices, PPA Basics
    • Reading: California RFP Best Practices - TerraVerde Renewable Partners (link)
    • Reading: Procuring and Implementing Solar Projects on Public Buildings - NREL (link)
    • Reading: Power Purchase Agreement Checklist - NREL (link)
  • On-Site Procedures (video link)
    • Topics: Basic Design Decisions, Anatomy of a PV Installation, Electrical Wiring, Fire Code/Safety Impacts
    • Reading: Solar Electric System Design, Operation and Installation - Washington State University (link)
    • Reading: California Solar Photovoltaic Installation Guideline - California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (link)
  • Lessons Learned (video link)
    • Topics: Typical Problem Areas, Most Common Installation Errors, PV Inspection Results, Installation "Do's" and "Don'ts", Installation Checklists
    • Reading: Field Inspection Guidelines for PV Systems - IREC (link)


Running a Solarize Campaign



Course description: Solarize is a community-based intervention to accelerate solar adoption used around the country and rigorously assessed in Connecticut by a team from Yale and Duke. In this webinar, Kenneth Gillingham of Yale University will discuss his evaluation of state solarize programs, discuss what works and doesn't work, and answer questions from teams.


Instructor:

  • Kenneth Gillingham, Yale University

Session 1 Outline:

  • Solarize programs in Connecticut, which saw a 300% increase in solar adoptions and 20% fall in costs
  • Tips for successful campaigns
  • Next Steps: approaches for reaching low and moderate income households
  • Next Steps: evaluating new approaches in South Carolina and New York

The recorded video is not yet available from this webinar.


Customer Acquisition



Course description: In some locations, it can take more than a year from the time someone learns about solar until they decide to sign and contract and move forward. This time delay is expensive, and leads to higher installed costs for solar PV in the U.S. This 4-hour course is designed to help your team gain foundational knowledge about the barriers and challenges of customer acquisition (the time and money spent doing outreach, education, and sales to attract solar customers) for solar projects in the United States.  You will gain an understanding of the success rates of community solarize programs and community solar in acquiring customers, as well as barriers related to each.  You will learn how customer acquisition is related to project and program design, with a specific focus on best practices for serving LMI customers. Beyond the training, you will be able to identify and understand relevant case studies and resources on customer acquisition related to your program, as well as be able to use demographic tools and databases to learn about your target customers and employ marketing strategies to reach them.


Instructor:


Full Outline and Reading List (link)

Session 1 Outline:

  • Customer Acquisition Overview and Challenges (video link)
    • Topics: Common barriers, solutions, how Solarize benefits customers and installers
    • Reading: Costs to Acquire Residential Solar Customers are High and Rising - GTM Media (link)
    • Reading: Residential Consumer Guide to Community Solar - SEIA (link)
  • Marketing Tools and Techniques (video link)
    • Topics: Understanding your target audience, developing effective marketing strategies, tailoring marketing, demographic tools, case studies
    • Tool: MyBestSegments - Claritas (link)
    • Tool: Think With Google - Google (link)
    • Tool: County-Level Data Sets - U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (link)
    • Tool: American FactFinder - U.S. Census Bureau (link)
  • Consumer Protection (video link)
    • Topics: Consumer Education, Complaint Resolution, Lease Disclosure, Solar Business Code
    • Reading: Solar Business Code - SEIA (link)
    • Reading: Process for Addressing Consumer Protection Complaints - SEIA (link)
    • Reading: Solar Transaction Disclosures - SEIA (link)
  • Session 1 Worksheet (link)

Session 2 Outline:

  • Overview (video link)
  • Introduction to Solarize (video link)
    • Topics: Overview of Solarize, Summary of Customer Acquisition Barriers, Marketing Best Practices
    • Reading: Planning and Implementing a Solarize Initiative - Nate Hausman & Nellie Condee (link)
    • Reading: Resource Guide to Solarize Campaign Success - NY-Sun (link)
  • Community Solar (video link)
    • Topics: Overview of Community Solar, Summary of Customer Acquisition Barriers, Marketing Best Practices
    • Reading: Residential Guide to Community Solar - SEIA (link)
    • Reading: A Guide to Community Solar - NREL (link)


Solar Finance



Course description: This 4-hour course is designed to help your team gain an understanding of ownership and financing structures for solar PV installations in the U.S. The overview of ownership models will focus on options for nonprofits, residents (both renters and homeowners), and community solar models for municipalities and businesses. This course will also provide an overview of relevant federal, state, and local policies and incentive programs that may be relevant to teams’ projects. You will learn about relevant financial models and tools to estimate energy savings and initial investments. After completing this course, your team will feel confident in its ability to identify current financing mechanisms and relevant policies that could impact your Solar in Your Community Challenge project or program. This course also includes a deep dive into community solar ownership models, processes and key considerations. Lastly, your team will be able to recognize what areas it needs additional expertise on financing topics, in order to identify experts in the Marketplace that can lend more specific support to your project or program.


Instructors:


Full Outline and Reading List (link)

Session 1 Outline (slides):

  • Introduction (video link)
  • Solar Ownership and Financing Structures Overview (video link)
    • Topics: Financial benefits of owning solar, Solar ownership types and financing
    • Reading: Third Party Solar Financing - SEIA (link)
    • Reading: A Massachusetts Homeowner's Guide to Solar Leases, Loans, and PPAs - Mass Department of Energy Resources (link)
  • Key Incentives and Programs (video link)
    • Topics: An introduction to Federal, State, and local incentives, credits and other policies that impact the financials of solar
    • Reading: Local Lending for Solar PV: A Guide for Local Governments - Meister Consultants Group (link)
    • Tool: Detailed Summary Maps of Renewable Policies - North Carolina Clean Technology Center (link)
  • Financing Tools (video link)
    • Topics: Overview of free online tools, identifying relavent financial inputs
    • Tool: PVWatts Calculator - NREL (link)
    • Tool: Community Solar Tool - NREL (link)
    • Tool: Solar Calculator - Energy Sage (link)
  • Session 1 Worksheet (link)

Session 2 Outline:

  • Overview and Recap (video link)
  • Project Development Financing Partners and Structures (video link)
  • LMI Considerations (video link)
    • Topics: Considerations for renter vs. homeowner, Loan programs and credit enhancements, Tax & direct incentives, On-bill financing
    • Reading: Low- and Moderate-Income Solar Policy Basics - NREL (link)
    • Reading: Low-Income Solar Policy Guide - Garren, S. et.. all (link)
  • RFP Process and Analyzing Bids (part 1 video link) (part 2 video link)
    • Topics: RFP process, Developing evaluation criteria, Considerations of bid reviews for Solarize campaigns & community solar projects
    • Reading: Solar Procurement Guidelines for Local Governments in New York State - NYSERDA (link)
    • Reading: Community Solar Project Ownership Structures and Financing - Community Solar Value Project (link)