SI2 Turns Two

Over the weekend, the Solar & Storage Industries Institute (SI2) celebrated its 2nd anniversary. Reaching this modest milestone gave me the opportunity to reflect on our busy year. 


The year brought new people to the Institute. Tiana Elame and Marilla Smith, now recent master’s program graduates, joined our team as our first class of fellows and contributed on many fronts. From delving into the arcane details of large-scale solar project interconnection, to developing survey questions on agrivoltaics projects, to helping with our pilot essay contest, our fellows did excellent work and will be completing their terms in June. (Psst – they are looking for work in the RE space and potential employers should consider talking to them). 

We were also fortunate to have Shawn Rumery join the team as senior program director. Shawn’s knowledge of the solar industry, market data, and research experience is a huge asset to our shop, and I appreciate his willingness to take the leap. 

Last, but certainly not least, two new board members joined the organization. Lisa Hamilton, formerly at Georgetown University and Amy Fuerstenau, formerly at the Energy Foundation, now both running separate consulting practices, joined the board of directors. I look forward to working with them to guide the Institute’s growth in the coming years.  


On the places front, Sarah Conley, now Director of Operations and Development, represented the Institute at the Solar Farms Summit in Chicago last summer . She also spoke on a panel on agrivoltaics at her first RE+ last year in Las Vegas. I hit the West Coast to talk about the challenges of large-scale siting at a Reuters event in San Diego and earlier this spring spoke at the National Farmers Union conference in Arizona to talk about our agrivoltaics currently underway with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.  


In case you missed it, the Institute released a report on improving the interconnection process, which argues we need better transmission planning and proposed a new two-part interconnection fee to build more cost certainty into this broken system.  

Between our paper, the DOE finalizing their interconnection roadmap, new data from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on interconnection wait times and queue sizes, and a series of staff-led workshops held by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, summer 2024 is looking like the season of interconnection reform discussion. 

And as the week winds down, if you haven’t filled out our agrivoltaics survey, time is running out. We intend to wrap this up on May 10th and should have results later this summer. 

Looking Ahead 

In addition to the Solar Farms Survey results, the Institute will share new analysis on whether utility load forecasts are fairly accounting for electric vehicle adoption and other beneficial electrification. Later this month look for a new model policy encouraging the use of Solar App+ and a new paper on the extent to which utility rooftop interconnection processes can be streamlined and automated.  

Many thanks to our board members, donors, friends, and colleagues who have been generous with their time as we ramp up activities, especially Abby Hopper, SI2 board chair, who is a tremendous source of guidance and support.