You talked, we listened

At IREC’s 2010 Annual Meeting in October in Los Angeles, you heard from the IREC team, friends and colleagues about the most current happenings in net metering, interconnection, clean energy workforce development, credentialing, and solar market data.  But we also invited you to sit down with IREC and ruminate, contemplate and deliberate on critical topics that affect us all. Based on your evaluations from that meeting, you really liked this (so did we).  And you had a lot to say.

We identified four areas to talk about:  community renewables, information dissemination, workforce development, and where’s IREC headed?   Actually, we’ve already begun to implement some of your thoughts.   Late last year, IREC began to lay down the infrastructure to credential energy efficiency training programs through its ISPQ credential.  We’re already thinking about ways to expand the roundtable discussion at this year’s Annual Meeting, October 17, 2011 in Dallas.  Mark your calendars now—it’ll be here before you know it.  Got ideas?

Below are some of the highlights of the conversations we had.  Thanks to Laurel Varnado for editing your ideas and thoughts into a manageable collection.

P.S.  These conversations (and others) continue on IREC’s Facebook and Twitter sites.  Join in.

Workforce Development

It would be good to see general website improvements such as posting information about upcoming events and links to job portals.

ISPQ is a mystery to most.  It should be marketed effectively and at every turn until it has the same recognition as NABCEP.

Build a better partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Educate Local Workforce Boards about effective training options and how they could work more effectively with IREC/ DOE.

IREC should develop a directory of all alternative energy and energy efficiency programs

Community Renewables

Billing software needs to adapt to accommodate community projects, utilities need to be reimbursed for utility software updates.

If risk is involved with community solar investment, SEC may step in to regulate securities.  How do you deal with this?

Many options available for ownership structure.  Direct ownership => direct incentives.  Utility ownership => power credits and possibly some incentives.  What is the best method for any given project?

Right now it is important to work with utilities and state governments to create pilot projects and help people understand community renewables.

Information Dissemination

Could there be an on-going discussion board online where IREC posts FAQ’s and questions we frequently get (with answers)?

IREC and IREC programs have recently dipped their toes into Facebook & Twitter.  Group stressed the importance of frequent status updates.

There was talk about the usefulness of customer feedback.  IREC programs could consider reaching out to their users for ways they could improve or expand their work.

How could IREC go “mainstream?”  As one of the leading organizations for policy and technical research, we are the experts of the field.  If there is a wide national discussion about climate change policy / carbon trading, IREC could be a valuable resource and could gain publicity.

Where is IREC going?

Can IREC bring together various stakeholder groups in the PHEV, PV, storage, smart grid, in a facilitated discussion?  IREC brings more (and different) voices to the discussion and identifies where the problems are and what are the impacts—like codes, rates, etc.

Policy silos should be broken down. Integrate renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grid, PHEV and other policy/technologies and there is a need to educate policymakers about how policies overlap

Issues will become more complex and sophisticated. Challenges will change, use data and quantify things as possible, do economic, cost-benefit analyses where possible

Renewable energy will need to be thought of in context of energy efficiency and conventional sources


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