SolSmart at the National Association of Development Organizations Conference

| By By Jack Morgan, National Association of Development Organizations

The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) hosted their Annual Training Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 7-10 this year. The event convened over 400 regional planning and economic development leaders and staff, local elected officials, federal officials, and other key stakeholders. During the conference, NADO hosted a workshop session on November 9 focused on solar and other renewable and resilient energy solutions for regions to pursue. Matthew Popkin of RMI led a discussion on planning for clean energy on brownfields—or ‘brightfields‘—such as solar installations on former landfills or industrial sites. Included in this presentation was a snapshot of current federal tax credits and ‘direct pay’ available for private and public sectors to develop solar energy projects. 

People tour a landfill capped with solar panels in Cuyahoga County.
Cuyahoga County Director of Sustainability Mike Foley leads a tour of solar installed on a landfill.

Two SolSmart designees also joined the session to shine a light on their efforts in renewable energy and engagement with the SolSmart program. Sam Sharp, Energy & Sustainability Planner with Region Nine Development Commission in Minnesota (a SolSmart Silver community) showcased the comprehensive clean energy efforts in their region, including solar and sustainable biofuels. Mike Foley, Director of Sustainability at Cuyahoga County, Ohio (SolSmart Gold), presented actions the county has taken in renewable energy as outlined in their climate action plan, such as solar arrays on county properties and planned microgrid districts across the county. Later that afternoon, Foley also led a mobile tour to visit two of these sites in-person: a landfill-to-solar project and county maintenance building rooftop solar array. This session was moderated by Eli Sharp, Deputy Director of New River Valley Regional Commission in Virginia (SolSmart Bronze).