SGA and the Fox Valley Sustainability Network hosted a Solar and Renewable Energy Forum at Waubonsee Community College in Aurora on Jan. 18. Among the topics that various speakers covered were financing options for community solar projects in Illinois, the different kinds of solar projects on the horizon, the Future Energy Jobs Act and municipal aggregation opportunities.

The second half of the forum featured a solar developer and institution match-making session, during which attendees had a chance to mingle with solar developers, companies and organizations to learn more about what they do and how they might work together on upcoming and future solar and renewable energy projects.

Mark Wilkerson, an account manager for Solaria, said he was looking specifically for 12-acre parcels of land on which to develop 2MW community solar arrays. “We have the people that can do the offtake. We take care of all the details. We just turn unused land into an income source for cities, for schools, for anybody that’s got unused farmland or farmland with not very good soil. We can turn that into an income source.”

Ellen Von Ohlen, of the Environmentally Conscious Oswego Committee, found the forum beneficial because speakers explained ways for how she could approach her community about solar. She especially appreciated the advice of Mark Pruitt, principal, Illinois Community Choice Aggregation Network: “Do the math.”

About 130 people registered for the forum, held at Waubonsee Community College Downtown Aurora Campus.

Speakers were Abby Beck, commissioner, Batavia Environmental Commission; Gary Cuneen, founder and executive director, Seven Generations Ahead; Mark Burger, solar consultant, Seven Generations Ahead; Mark Pruitt, principal, Illinois Community Choice Aggregation Network; Mark VanKerkhoff, director, Kane County Development & Community Services Department, and MeLena Hessel, policy advocate, Environmental Law & Policy Center.