Solar Symposium Schedule

Photo by NextEra Energy Resources

Access the Virtual Platform


About         Proceedings         Live Sessions         On-Demand         Committees

Live Session Agenda

Speakers are listed in alphabetical order by last name. Speakers and program are subject to change.

Click the panel links below to add to calendar.

Download PDF 


Wednesday, December 1: Solar 101 Workshop

11:00 AM – 5:30 PM Eastern Time


11:00 AM – 11:07 AM

  • Abby Arnold, American Wind Wildlife Institute

Solar Power in the U.S.

11:07 AM – 12:30 PM

Following COP26, this session will feature a review of the impacts of climate change on wildlife. Then, a panel of speakers will discuss projections for the buildout of solar power required to achieve net-zero emissions in the U.S. by 2035 and 2050: What do models predict for current and future markets, anticipated development in the next 3-5 years, current and emerging technologies, and patterns of future buildout across the U.S.?


  • Aimee Delach, Defenders of Wildlife
  • Dr. Robert Margolis, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Dr. Xiaojing Sun, Wood Mackenzie


  • Nathanael Greene, Natural Resources Defense Council


Keynote Speaker: Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy

1:00 PM – 1:20 PM

Ms. Speakes-Backman is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. DOE. In her role, Speakes-Backman leads and directs EERE, focused on creating and sustaining American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy.

Ms. Speakes-Backman will be discussing the exciting work the Department of Energy is undertaking to enable a bright future for solar energy in the U.S.


  • Kelly Speakes-Backman, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. DOE


  • Michele Boyd, DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy


Solar Site Selection & Development Process

2:00 PM – 3:45 PM

Selecting the location for a large utility-scale solar facility is a complicated process. Experts will give an overview of what factors developers address when deciding where and what kind of development to pursue. They will also discuss essential requirements to consider when developing a new utility-scale solar project, including wildlife and non-wildlife-related federal, state, and local level permitting and regulatory requirements.


  • Stephen Czapka, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Alyssa Edwards, Lightsource bp
  • Jodie Eldridge, Florida Power & Light Co.
  • Dr. Karen Voltura, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Southeast Region


  • Jason Hight, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Conservation Commission


Public Acceptance

3:45 PM – 4:55 PM

Community views about solar power play an important role in future expansion of solar across the U.S. Hear from experts and practitioners in the field about concerns and interests of residents and landowners, and studies, strategies, and opportunities to understand and address local interests.


  • Steve Kalland, NC Clean Energy Technology Center
  • Dr. Sarah Mills, University of Michigan, Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy
  • Dr. Sharlissa Moore, Michigan State University
  • Sarah Moser, Savion Energy
  • Amy Berg Pickett, Sunstone Energy


  • Jaci Friedley, Apex Clean Energy

Capstone: Current and Future Opportunities to Collaborate for Sustainable Development

4:55 PM – 5:30 PM

Tom Starrs, Vice President Government Affairs at EDP Renewables, & Renee Stone, Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs and General Counsel at Defenders of Wildlife, will discuss paths forward to collaborate on sustainable development of solar and renewables.


  • Tom Starrs, EDP Renewables
  • Renee Stone, Defenders of Wildlife


  • Abby Arnold, American Wind Wildlife Institute


Thursday, December 2: Evaluating and Mitigating Impacts on Wildlife and Their Habitats & Water Resource Management

11:00 AM – 5:30 PM Eastern Time


11:00 AM – 11:05 AM

  • Abby Arnold, American Wind Wildlife Institute


Evaluating and Mitigating Impacts on Wildlife and Their Habitats:

  A. Risks of Solar Development to Avian Species (direct, habitat, and modeling cumulative impacts)

11:05 AM – 12:35 PM

  B. Risks of Solar Development to Other Wildlife Species (direct, habitat, and modeling cumulative impacts)

  12:35 PM – 2:00 PM

A first step in developing research priorities is to understand the state of the science. This two-part panel features experts summarizing the state of the science on direct and habitat-related risks of solar power to birds and other wildlife species, followed by a discussion on approaches to model population and cumulative impacts to various species of concern.

A. Speakers

  • Dr. Ryan Harrigan, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at University of California, Los Angeles
  • Dr. Todd Katzner, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Dr. Karl Kosciuch, Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc.
  • Leroy Walston, Argonne National Laboratory

B. Speakers

  • David Bender, Stantec
  • Matthew lhnken, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.
  • Dr. Todd Katzner, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Dr. Karl Kosciuch, Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc.


  • Dr. Taber Allison, American Wind Wildlife Institute


Siting: Science, Tools, and Solutions

2:30 PM – 4:05 PM

Siting energy facilities, including solar power, can be controversial. Following an expert review of siting tools and strategies available to avoid and minimize impacts to wildlife and habitat, a representative group of stakeholders will discuss challenges and opportunities for existing tools and identify how planning and other strategies and tools could continue to improve.


  • Dr. Shilo Felton, National Audubon Society
  • Dr. Yuki Hamada, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Andrew Pinger, EDP Renewables North America
  • Sarah Reif, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife


  • Nicole Hughes, Renewable Northwest


Stormwater Management

4:05 PM – 5:30 PM

Stormwater management is an important element when designing large-scale solar facilities. Experts will discuss how different state interpretations of the federal Clean Water Act NPDES regulations are impacting solar project-related stormwater management around the country. They will explore how these interpretations affect emerging BMPs, future areas of study, and approaches to reconcile stormwater regulations with other ecosystem related objectives, such as establishing native vegetation, pollinator habitat, and related onsite management objectives.


  • Jay Johnstone, Stantec
  • Deron Lawrence, Longroad Energy
  • Todd Smith, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Chris Stone, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
  • Jacob Thompson, Barr Engineering


  • James McCall, National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Friday, December 3: Land Management and Wildlife Compatibility & Solar Life-Cycle and Natural Resource Considerations

11:00 AM – 5:45 PM Eastern Time


11:00 AM – 11:05 AM

  • Abby Arnold, American Wind Wildlife Institute


Land Management Considerations for Native Vegetation, Pollinators, Wildlife, and Habitat

11:05 AM – 1:20 PM

‘Ecosystem benefits’ is being discussed by the industry and conservation/science community as it relates to solar projects. This panel will feature an engaging discussion of diverse perspectives on ecological management opportunities and challenges at solar facilities in three different regions of the country, and discuss regional differences and tradeoffs related to management for native vegetation, pollinator species habitat, research needs, and other considerations such as project costs and worker safety.


  • Brian Croft, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Marylou Horan, Georgia Department of Natural Resources
  • Magdalena Rodriguez, California Department of Fish & Wildlife
  • Dan Salas, Cardno
  • Misti Sporer, Duke Energy
  • Tom Swinford, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Bryan Tompkins, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Jennifer Wong, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


  • Iris Caldwell, Energy Resources Center, University of Illinois Chicago


Opportunities Around Dual-Use of Land for Solar and Agriculture (Grazing Livestock, Crop Production)

1:20 PM – 2:30 PM

In response to concern about land use transitioning from agriculture production to energy development, opportunities for dual-use of lands at solar facilities have been studied and applied in Europe and are now being applied in the U.S. Practitioners fresh from the field will discuss innovations in dual-use including livestock grazing, vegetable production, and apiary management under and around solar arrays. They will also explore legal and economic considerations and the feasibility of scaling up “agri-solar” models to larger solar projects.


  • Kevin Campbell, EDF Renewables
  • Lexie Hain, American Solar Grazing Association
  • Cody Smith, Environmental Resilience Institute
  • Brittany Staie, Sprout City Farms


  • Dr. Stacie Peterson, National Center for Appropriate Technology


Re-Development of Degraded Sites

3:00 PM – 4:20 PM

Solar development on already disturbed lands is one option to avoid impacting intact habitats. However, development on these sites is complicated by current laws, regulations, and other technical issues related to “re-development” of a site previously used for other purposes. Experts will define “disturbed sites” and address safety, legal, and regulatory considerations at these sites, and highlight strategies to promote social and environmental benefits and future directions for solar development on degraded lands.


  • Benjamin Cowan, Locke Lord LLP
  • Eric Hansen, Westwood PS
  • Erich Miarka, Savion
  • Lora Strine, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


  • Roger Clarke, Xcel Energy


Product End-of-Life Management

4:20 PM – 5:45 PM

Product end-of-life management is a critical component of solar power as part of the strategy to make renewable energy sustainable. Experts will present on the latest developments in solar panel recycling, re-use, and environmentally responsible disposal, product design for end-of-life management, and how state and federal regulators are approaching solar panel recycling and disposal.


  • Evelyn Butler, Solar Energy Industries Association
  • Dr. Garvin Heath, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Chris Newman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Dr. David Wagger, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries


  • Dr. Stephanie Shaw, Electric Power Research Institute