IREC’s Annual Report Released, Covering 2021’s Biggest Highlights
IREC’s 2021 Annual Report covers our biggest highlights from last year, including key wins from our Regulatory, Workforce, and Local Initiative teams, metrics that quantify our impact, and more.
“2021 was a momentous year in IREC’s 39-year history, marking our merger with The Solar Foundation—another leading clean energy nonprofit with a commitment to independence, rigor, and justice, said Larry Sherwood, President and CEO of IREC. “With the merger, IREC more than doubled its staff size and budget and took charge of additional highly respected programs with strong linkages to our existing work to advance a 100% clean energy future.”
In 2021, the Regulatory team continued to push for policies to streamline the interconnection process for distributed, clean energy resources. This work included engaging in regulatory proceedings in 5 states and providing technical assistance to stakeholders in 6 states. In addition, the team provided guidance for regulators and utilities on important design considerations for hosting capacity analysis maps through the publication of the report Key Decisions for Hosting Capacity Analyses.
IREC also continued to lead a three-year project funded by the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, Building a Technically Reliable Interconnection Evolution for Storage (BATRIES). We worked with several partners, including California Solar and Storage Association, Electric Power Research Institute, Energy Storage Association, the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, PacifiCorp, Solar Energy Industries Hampshire Electric Cooperative, PacifiCorp, Solar Energy Industries Association, and Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP to develop practical solutions to eight critical storage interconnection barriers. Over the past year, the project team completed a nationally applicable toolkit of resources for regulators, utilities, and other stakeholders, and in 2022-2023, we will conduct extensive training and education to enable adoption of the solutions.
In 2021, the Workforce team launched the National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance to coordinate efforts to build an inclusive clean energy workforce to meet the future staffing needs of the industry. The team also created the Green Buildings Career Map, published the 11th annual National Solar Jobs Census, and developed new clean energy training courses.
We also launched a new Clean Energy Clearinghouse that will host educational clean energy resources for safety officials and other audiences. The Solar Ready Vets Network developed five new “Veterans Pathways” to NABCEP Certification, hosted two successful career fairs, and welcomed 25 new fellows.
IREC’s Local Initiatives team achieved several wins in 2021. The SolSmart program released guidance for communities on simplified solar permitting and advancing solar equity, and marked a key milestone of over 400 SolSmart-designated communities. In Puerto Rico, IREC selected a rural community to host a new solar microgrid, partnered with the Hispanic Federation to install a 250 kW solar energy system on Puerto Rico’s most important community market, and released the Puerto Rico Solar Finance Report. The Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC) adopted several recommendations to improve codes and standards that govern clean energy systems.
“From regulatory leadership to advance state-level policies that help enable more clean energy on the grid, to the hundreds of communities we are supporting in their efforts to expand clean energy access, to our initiatives to strengthen and grow an inclusive clean energy workforce, IREC continued to play a unique and critical role in 2021,” Sherwood said. “As we enter our 40th year of operations in the year ahead, it’s clear to me that IREC’s commitment to expanding the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency is stronger than ever. And, as demonstrated by our achievements in 2021, we are also better positioned than ever to make that a reality.”