Accelerating the transition to carbon-free electricity through clean energy research and analysis
About the Institute
The Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2), is accelerating the transition to carbon-free electricity through clean energy research and analysis. The institute aims to use policy research, public education initiatives, and direct outreach to policymakers to explain the benefits of clean energy and develop pathways to widespread solar and storage use. SI2 is the charitable and education arm of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
The Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2) seeks to raise awareness about the benefits of clean energy, educate the public about policies that will encourage widespread solar and storage adoption, and develop solutions that promote the widespread use of clean energy.
SI2 Expands Research and Fundraising Capabilities with New Hire
Washington, D.C. — Today the Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2) announced that it hired Sara Conley-Ballew to be the nonprofit’s assistant director for development. Conley-Ballew’s work will help SI2 pursue new research and educational projects that expand the solar and storage industry.
“We’re excited to welcome Sarah Conley-Ballew to the Solar and Storage Industries Institute,” said David Gahl, executive director of SI2. “With Sarah on board, I’m looking forward to rapidly expanding SI2’s portfolio and aggressively pursuing research that knocks down persistent barriers to solar and storage deployment.”
In this role, Conley-Ballew will lead SI2’s fundraising efforts, manage a portfolio of research projects, and prepare grant applications that help to advance the nonprofit’s goals.
The window to address the climate crisis is rapidly closing.
We already have the tools and technologies we need to rapidly decarbonize the electric grid but will fall far short of state and national climate goals without policies that support clean energy deployment and promote a competitive solar and storage market. To decarbonize the grid by 2035, average annual solar installations must be five times greater than they are today.
Without faster action, the United States won’t even reach half of the solar capacity needed to decarbonize the grid by 2035. What’s more, ensuring clean energy growth creates benefits for all Americans will only happen with intentional policies and programs that center equity in the energy transition.
Delays in solar and storage deployment are not an option. Delays mean lost jobs, lost investment, and lost clean energy deployment at a time when we need to address the climate crisis and expand the benefits of solar to communities nationwide.
Clean energy remains one of the best options we have to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and the United States must urgently address the roadblocks preventing the widespread use of clean energy.
The Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2) will study these roadblocks and explore the near-term policies, solutions, and initiatives needed to rapidly deploy clean energy.
Why Solar and Storage?
Solar and energy storage are powerful tools in the fight against climate change.
Solar comes in all sizes and can be quickly deployed, helping the United States rapidly meet its climate goals. If the solar industry supplies 30% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030 (up from roughly 3% today), solar alone could cut electricity sector emissions by 50%.
With the right market signals, solar and storage can go to work for our economy. These technologies are proven job creators that can help us add more than $800 billion to our economy and create more than a million well-paying jobs over the next decade. These are serious economic benefits that can help Americans in every zip code and communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
To achieve an equitable clean energy economy, the industry must first overcome a host of challenges, including: antiquated rate designs, grid operators that are struggling to connect new generation, a workforce in need of additional training and skills, and debates about where to host the large-scale solar and storage projects needed to meet these goals.
The Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2) will offer evidence-based solutions, policy options, and public education initiatives that help state and federal lawmakers address the systemic challenges facing the solar and storage industry.
Land Use and Large-scale Solar Projects
To help meet aggressive state and federal clean energy deployment goals, many more large-scale solar projects must be built across the country. SI2 is developing a siting framework for large-scale solar projects, which can produce much needed zero-carbon electricity, while serving important ecosystem enhancement and conservation roles. Responsible siting of large-scale solar can help preserve community character, protect property rights, and meet the nation’s growing clean energy needs.
This new framework will be available in the spring of 2022.
Meet the SI2 Team
David Gahl formerly served as SEIA’s Senior Director of State Policy, East where he worked on regulatory and legislative matters in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York and provided senior-level oversight on important cross-cutting solar policy issues across the Eastern states.
Prior to joining SEIA, Dave worked at the Pace Energy and Climate Center at Pace University’s Law School, where he was deeply involved in New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision effort. Prior to Pace, David held various positions at Environmental Advocates of New York, New York State’s leading environmental advocacy organization, the New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.
Dave has broad expertise in renewable energy and environmental policy development, budget analysis, and a strong track record of building informed consensus around difficult issues. He has written extensively on solar policy, energy and environmental issues, and been a regular participant in regulatory dockets in the Northeast.
He earned a B.A. in History from Miami University in Ohio and an M.A. in Public Policy from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs, at the State University of New York at Albany. David lives outside Albany, New York with his wife and two daughters.
Assistant Director of Development
Prior to joining SI2, Sarah was the founding Director of Rural Action’s Sustainable Energy Solutions Program, an initiative focused on catalyzing clean energy development in Appalachian Ohio by supporting regional efforts to scale up energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation initiatives. She led a 3-year DOE-funded project to advance electric vehicle adoption and the development of EV charging infrastructure and provided technical assistance to small businesses and agricultural producers seeking USDA REAP grant funding. Sarah was also the founding Executive Director of UpGrade Ohio, a nonprofit organization that formed as a result of Athens County’s participation in the Georgetown University Energy Prize Challenge in 2015. The Challenge offered a $5 million prize purse to a community that reduced its energy use by the greatest degree over a two-year period. Athens County was not the grand prize winner, but as a result of UpGrade Ohio’s efforts, it successfully reduced residential and municipal energy use by 3%, which is roughly the equivalent of $5 million in collective savings. Sarah also served as a SolSmart Advisor in 2017, providing technical support to four Appalachian Ohio communities by streamlining policies and procedures that reduce the soft costs associated with solar development. These communities were among the first rural municipalities in the country to participate in the SolSmart program, and Sarah’s work contributed key insights into advancing solar in underserved rural communities. Conley-Ballew received the Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40 Award in 2019 and was a Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) Fellow in 2022.