Navigating Solar Siting

Navigating Solar Siting

April 10, 2024 | Online :: Central Time

The future of energy generation is unfolding before us, and it begins with where we choose to place our solar installations. Optimal siting maximizes energy output, increasing return on investment and making solar power more cost-competitive. Careful siting choices can help preserve ecologically sensitive areas, reduce habitat disruption, and mitigate the environmental impact of solar installations.

During this event our expert presenters will delve into the process of solar site selection, covering regulatory considerations, best practices, and more to make your solar projects shine. Whether you’re a seasoned industry professional or a newcomer to the solar landscape, this event will provide you with the insights and tools needed to optimize your solar project development.

Join us in shaping the future of clean energy, one site at a time.

Learning Outcomes

Attendees will gain practical skills and insights on how to:

  • Discuss the regulatory requirements and permitting processes involved in developing solar projects, including zoning laws, land-use regulations, and environmental permits
  • Identify the hurdles of redeveloping brownfields
  • Discover how to minimize the environmental impact of solar projects through responsible site selection
  • Explore considerations associated with solar projects, including potential impacts on local ecosystems, wildlife, and communities
  • Discuss the integration of solar energy into existing electrical grid systems, including considerations for grid capacity, stability, and connection requirements
  • Explore solar design considerations
  • Identify legal and financial considerations in land acquisition
  • Explore financial and modeling considerations
  • Identify common landowner questions and how to nurture a relationship to proactively address concerns regarding the legal and financial aspects of leasing their land
  • Explore effective communication with local communities and stakeholders to address concerns, gather input, and build support for solar projects
  • Identify best practices for community benefits agreements
  • Recognize transmission assessment considerations for utility-scale solar siting


Wednesday, April 10, 2024 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Log In and Welcome

12:00 – 12:45 p.m.
Lunch Break

9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Course Timing

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. :: Overview and Instructions

9:15 – 9:45 a.m. :: Securing the Best Sites: The Key to Solar Farms Development

The Inflation Reduction Act precipitated tremendous growth in the Renewable Energy sector. The key to successful solar farm development is securing the best sites. Negotiation with landowners requires education of the development process – option, lease, installation, and decommissioning phases. A nurturing relationship must be established to proactively address concerns regarding the legal and financial aspects of leasing their land for a solar farm. This session will address common landowner questions, legal and financial hurdles encountered, and a short case study.

Mary Ellen Barker, Founder & CEO, Solar Land Agent, LLC 

9:45 – 10:45 a.m. :: Is Solar Development Suitable for all Sites? Considerations when Siting Solar on Brownfields and Contaminated Lands

This presentation will include an overview of AC Power and the redevelopment of brownfields through solar energy generation. AC Power will discuss how community solar and state by state policies affect distributed generation projects on brownfields. The presentation will begin by covering siting analysis, including:

  • Zoning and land use regulations for solar farms
  • Interconnection (capacity, substation proximity)
  • The hurdles of redeveloping brownfields (Land Remediation, caps, O&M, closure requirements)
  • Topography
  • Wetland, flood zone and conservation land delineation
  • Financial/modeling considerations (specific production, price of energy, IX costs, EPC)
  • Environmental impact and conservation of developing solar projects

After the initial presentation, AC Power’s general counsel will bring the legal perspective on the operations and discuss:

  • ITC adders
  • Legal and financial considerations in land acquisition
  • Engaging with potentially responsible parties
  • Environmental insurance
  • Utilities as back-end developers and owner-operators

Chelsea Moore, Senior Business Development Analyst, AC Power LLC

Isadora Muszkat, Senior Business Development Analyst, AC Power LLC

Jake Hirsch, General Counsel, AC Power, LLC

10:45 – 11:00 a.m. :: Morning Break

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Transmission Assessment Considerations for Utility-Scale Solar Siting Analysis

This presentation will cover topics nFront Consulting considers when performing a utility-scale solar siting study for a client including the following:

  • Supply – demand balance
  • Oversupply issues
    • Duck curve/canyon curve
  • Power purchase agreement overview
  • Historical pricing review (energy/capacity)
    • Impacts of solar penetration on Effective Load Carrying Capability (ELCC) with and without batteries
    • Capacity risks (penalties)
  • Queue Overview
    • Status of the queue and current delays
    • Cost to interconnect
    • Shared interconnection
  • Transmission limitations
  • Co-locate battery considerations
  • PTC vs. ITC
  • Security constrain economics dispatch
    • Discussion on congestion, basis, curtailment

Kevin McAuliffe, Director of PJM and Northeast Markets, nFront Consulting

12:00 – 12:45 p.m. :: Lunch Break

12:45 – 1:30 p.m. :: Solar Siting Design & Simulation Analysis

This presentation will introduce, and detail common strategies and considerations leveraged by design and simulation software utilized to evaluate solar development sites on a wide range of project considerations.

  • Land siting considerations
    • Proximity to adequate grid infrastructure
    • Suitable geography
      • Topography, wetlands, flood zones, woodlands, etc.
    • Land acquisition costs
    • RTO and ISO limitations
  • Software Platforms
    • Helioscope
    • System Advisory Model (SAM)
    • PV Syst
    • PV Case
    • Solesca
  • Design Considerations
    • Interconnection methodology
    • Central vs. String inverters
    • Fixed tilt vs. single-axis tracker racking
      • Tilt angle, tracker drive type, GCR (row spacing), etc.
    • Mono vs. bifacial modules
    • Optimizing O&M
    • Futureproofing electrical
  • Simulation Variables
    • Weather data source
      • Publicly available
      • Premium paid data (SolarAnywhere)
    • Soiling & shading scenes
    • Equipment selection/performance
  • Presenting Findings
    • Identify simulation iterations
    • Present design considerations and reasoning
    • Identify potential issues or items that require further analysis

Travis Kepler, Engineering Manager, Nelnet Renewable Energy

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. :: Solar Siting to Build Social License

Community (or other stakeholder) opposition to solar projects slows needed deployment of large-scale solar projects. Or, is it the solar development business model that needs to change? This session will consider solar siting from the perspective of building social license: gaining community or regulator acceptance by mitigating community-perceived risks, responding to community priorities, creating local co-benefits, and offering decision-makers the portfolio of tools to enable a “yes”.

  • Understanding the comprehensive or master plan
  • Low impact siting considerations
  • Strategic mitigation
  • Cultural ecosystem services
    • Economic base
    • Recreation
    • Community character
  • Community benefits agreements

Brian Ross, Vice President, Renewable Energy, Great Plains Institute

2:30 – 2:45 p.m. :: Afternoon Break

2:45 – 3:30 p.m. :: Fighting Back Against Local Opposition to Renewables

Many utility-scale wind and solar projects face local opposition. Even environmental groups sometimes challenge projects because of their effects on birds, scenic views, and other factors. The Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative (RELDI) was formed to provide pro bono legal assistance to community groups that favor utility-scale projects that are facing local opposite. This talk will discuss the “tradeoff denial” that is involved in some of this opposition; the activities of RELDI, and the statistics it has gathered in local opposition; and some possible federal and state legislation that could address the problem.

Michael Gerrard, Professor and Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. :: Building Community: Authentic Engagement for Renewable Energy Projects     

Renewable energy projects have tremendous potential to fuel economic growth and deliver benefits to communities across the country. Unfortunately, without meaningful community engagement, those opportunities can easily be lost thanks to natural NIMBY tendencies, online misinformation, and developer missteps. This session will address best practices for authentic engagement with community stakeholders and examine effective tools and tactics that can be used to build on-the-ground support for renewable energy projects through traditional organizing, supporter mobilization, and storytelling.                              

Brian O’Shea, Director of Public Engagement, Apex Clean Energy


Mary Ellen Barker, Founder & CEO, Solar Land Agent, LLC

Mary Ellen Barker is the Founder and CEO of Solar Land Agent, LLC. Her team offers comprehensive renewable energy site advisory services, seamlessly integrating a wealth of experience in renewable energy, finance, economic development, real estate, and agriculture. Solar Land Agent clients include developers and landowners involved in developing energy projects across the United States. Projects include utility-scale solar farms, battery storage systems, and site identification for any type of renewable energy project. Hailing from the peach state of Georgia, Mary Ellen is an alumna of the University of Georgia, where she majored in Finance and Risk Management. She completed her post-graduate work at Mercer University, earning her MBA.

Michael Gerrard, Professor and Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

Michael Gerrard is Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School, where he teaches courses on environmental and energy law and founded and directs the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. He is a former Chair of the Faculty of Columbia’s Earth Institute and now holds a joint appointment to the faculty of its successor, the Columbia Climate School. Before joining the Columbia faculty in January of 2009, he was partner in charge of the New York office of the Arnold & Porter law firm. He practiced environmental law in New York City full time from 1979 to 2008. He was the 2004-2005 chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources. He has also chaired the Executive Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and the Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association.

Since 1986, Gerrard has written an environmental law column for the New York Law Journal. He is author or editor of fourteen books, two of which were named Best Law Book of the Year by the Association of American Publishers: Environmental Law Practice Guide (twelve volumes, 1992) and Brownfields Law and Practice (four volumes, 1998). Among his other books are Global Climate Change and U.S. Law (with Jody Freeman and Michael Burger) 2023, Threatened Island Nations: Legal Implications of Rising Seas and a Changing Climate (with Gregory Wannier, 2013) and Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (with David Dernbach 2019)

Jake Hirsch, General Counsel, AC Power, LLC

As General Counsel, Jake handles all legal matters related to AC Power’s core business. Jake drafts, negotiates, and oversees all project development and real estate contracts with AC Power’s commercial partners; supervises all of AC Power’s outside counsel’ and develops processes and procedures to ensure AC Power’s compliance with all applicable laws and regulatory requirements. Jake graduated from New York University School of Law and, throughout his studies and career, has focused on complex commercial disputes and labor & employment law. Prior to joining AC Power, Jake worked as a commercial litigation associate at Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman, where he represented a diverse array of clients in complex commercial disputes. Jake also clerked for the Honorable Katharine H. Parker at the United Stated District Court for the Southern District of New York after having started his legal career as a labor and employment associate at Proskauer Rose. Aside from work, Jake loves hanging out with his dog Reggie, playing recreational basketball and softball, and watching the NY Yankees and Giants.

Travis Kepler, Engineering Manager, Nelnet Renewable Energy

Travis has been a part of the Nelnet Renewable Energy team since 2012. Travis has an extensive construction background as well as technical design experience with degrees in manufacturing, engineering, and computer programming. Travis utilizes the latest technology along with CAD design to navigate project development and design. He primarily operates in the design and procurement space, but he also plays a dynamic role as he remains involved in projects as a crew lead and project manager when needed. He also heads up the operations & maintenance group at Nelnet Renewable Energy, assisting with internal projects as well as offering third-party support for customers.

Kevin McAuliffe, Director of PJM and Northeast Markets, nFront Consulting

Mr. McAuliffe is a Director with 15 years of experience in the power industry working for both Independent Power Producers and a utility. In his roles he has performed transmission planning, fundamental market analysis, and portfolio analytics and optimization. He has a strong understanding of security constrained economic dispatch analyses, capacity markets, and market issues. Mr. McAuliffe has experience in regional markets across North America including PJM, MISO, SPP, NYISO, and ISONE. He has worked with transmission software packages such as PROMOD, PSSE, and TARA to evaluate impacts of transmission curtailments, market issues, and regulatory issues.

Chelsea Moore, Senior Business Development Analyst, AC Power LLC

As a Senior Business Development Analyst, Chelsea supports the Business Development team by driving backend analysis, including identifying optimal sites and their financial feasibility, researching policy, generating client-facing materials such as presentation and proposals, and facilitating the communication between the business development and project development teams. In previous roles, Chelsea served as a consultant for aerospace, aviation, and sustainability clients and worked as a marketing manager for renewable energy companies. While double-majoring in Environmental Studies and English at Dartmouth College, she conducted research for NASA and worked as a journalist and editor for NOAA. After growing up in the Rocky Mountains and dedicating most of her time to ski racing, Chelsea continues to love anything outdoor and has recently become an avid poetry writer and competitive crossword finisher.

Isadora Muszkat, Senior Business Development Analyst, AC Power LLC

As a Senior Business Development Analyst, Isadora supports the Business Development team by driving backend analysis, including identifying optimal sites and their financial feasibility, researching policy, generating client-facing materials such as presentations and proposals, and facilitating the communication between the business development and project development teams. She previously worked as an intern for an architecture and urban design office and a CT chapter of the Clean Cities Coalition, where she gained experience in client relations, teamwork, graphic design, and project development. Isadora is originally from Brazil and graduated with a dual degree in Philosophy and Sustainable Development from the Tev Aviv University and Columbia University joint program. She has always been passionate about sustainability. As a kid she would not let her parents throw away anything that she could repurpose into a toy, home decor, or something else.

Brian O’Shea, Director of Public Engagement, Apex Clean Energy

Brian O’Shea began his career organizing in rural communities throughout the Midwest for issue and candidate campaigns ranging from city council and state legislature to major congressional and presidential campaigns. Brian later worked as a consultant to numerous businesses, trade associations, non-profits, and advocacy groups across the country on a variety of issues, including education policy, workforce development, and clean energy.

Brian joined Apex Clean Energy in 2019 and has led the company’s public engagement efforts on projects from Michigan to Maine, bringing lessons from the campaign and organizing world into renewable energy development. As Director of Public Engagement for Apex, he works with the company’s public engagement and development teams to build authentic and meaningful relationships with landowners, local stakeholders, elected officials, and residents to help communities realize local opportunities for renewable energy development and accelerate America’s shift to clean energy.

Brian Ross, Vice President, Renewable Energy, Great Plains Institute

Brian Ross, AICP, is a Vice President at the Great Plains Institute. He leads GPI’s renewable energy market transformation efforts in the Midwest and nationally. For over 30 years he has worked extensively with local, regional, and state governments on climate and energy planning, renewable energy policy and land use and natural resource regulation. Brian currently leads efforts at the state and national level to integrate renewable energy and community co-benefits to enhance natural systems, meet host community land use priorities, and support agriculture business models. He helped create the ground-breaking PV-SMaRT Initiative on solar and water quality, the Source Water Solar initiative in MN, and now leads a new U.S. DOE-funded PV-SuCCESS initiative on solar and ecosystem services in the Midwest.

Online Delivery

We will be using Microsoft Teams to facilitate your participation in the upcoming event. You do not need to have an existing Teams account in order to participate in the broadcast – the course will play in your browser and you will have the option of using a microphone to speak with the room and ask questions, or type any questions in via the chat window and our on-site representative will relay your question to the instructor.

  • Microsoft recommends downloading and installing the Teams app if possible. You may also use the Edge browser or Chrome.
  • You will receive a separate email with a unique link to a personalized landing page which will include links to join all sessions of this event.
  • If you are using a microphone, please ensure that it is muted until such time as you need to ask a question.
  • The remote meeting connection will be open approximately 30 minutes before the start of the course. We encourage you to connect as early as possible in case you experience any unforeseen problems.


Please Note: This event is being conducted entirely online. All attendees will connect and attend from their computer, one connection per purchase. For details please see our FAQ

If you are unable to attend at the scheduled date and time, we make recordings available to all attendees for 7 days after the event


Navigating Solar Siting

April 10, 2024 | Online
Individual attendee(s) - $ 895.00 each

Volume pricing also available

Individual attendee tickets can be mixed with ticket packs for complete flexibility

Pack of 5 attendees - $ 3,580.00 (20% discount)
Pack of 10 attendees - $ 6,265.00 (30% discount)
Pack of 20 attendees - $ 10,740.00 (40% discount)

Your registration may be transferred to a member of your organization up to 24 hours in advance of the event. Cancellations must be received on or before March 08, 2024 in order to be refunded and will be subject to a US $195.00 processing fee per registrant. No refunds will be made after this date. Cancellations received after this date will create a credit of the tuition (less processing fee) good toward any other EUCI event. This credit will be good for six months from the cancellation date. In the event of non-attendance, all registration fees will be forfeited. In case of conference cancellation, EUCIs liability is limited to refund of the event registration fee only. For more information regarding administrative policies, such as complaints and refunds, please contact our offices at 303-770-8800




EUCI is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard. IACET is recognized internationally as a standard development organization and accrediting body that promotes quality of continuing education and training.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 0.6 CEUs for this event

Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

Participants must sign in/out each day, be in attendance for the entirety of the course to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Instructional Methods

Power Point presentations and Q&A

Upon successful completion of this event, program participants interested in receiving CPE credits will receive a certificate of completion.

Course CPE Credits: 7.5
There is no prerequisite for this Course.
Program field of study: Specialized Knowledge
Program Level: Basic
Delivery Method: Group Internet Based
Advanced Preparation: None

CpeEUCI is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its web site:


Who Should Attend

  • Solar Project Developers
  • Land Use Planners
  • Site Assessors
  • Permitting Specialists
  • Utility Company Representatives
  • Solar Investors and Sponsors
  • Energy Analysts

Media Partner

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