Smart Solar for New England Free Webinar Series - American Farmland Trust

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Smart Solar for New England Free Webinar Series

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Join us for a four-part webinar series, as we share outcomes from our joint two-year project seeking to reduce conflicts over the siting of solar facilities.

New England states have ambitious climate goals and, together, they have made considerable progress reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions through a range of activities. Increasing the share of renewables in the electric supply, and displacing fossil fuels, is a core part of achieving these targets. However, the rapid expansion of renewable energy installations across the region in recent years has brought new and pressing challenges. This new pressure compounds the severe “competition for land” in New England, underpinning the need to evaluate smart solar as a uniquely flexible tool to combat climate change while reinforcing conservation of our most precious lands and natural resources.  

Smart solar removes unnecessary barriers to solar projects that are in the public interest while providing oversight for projects that will have community or natural resource impacts. It is built upon data driven analyses that consider the inherent trade-offs associated with ground mounted solar and the differing values of stakeholders in order to reduce conflict and achieve greater public support of renewable energy siting. 

Free Webinar Series

Join American Farmland Trust, Acadia Center, Conservation Law Foundation, Vote Solar, and Vermont Law School for a four-part webinar series, as we share outcomes from our joint two-year project seeking to reduce conflicts over the siting of solar facilities. 

#1 Smart Solar – Policies, Programs, and Progress

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#2 Smart Solar – Balancing Land Conservation with Smart Siting 

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#3 Smart Solar – Growing the Solar Market with Smart Siting

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#4 Smart Solar – Turning State and Local Priorities into Sound Policy

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New England Smart Solar Project Partner Bios

Emily J Cole, PhD – AFT – Climate and Agriculture Program Manager 

Emily is a soil scientist leading AFT’s Climate and Agriculture Program in New England. She works both to improve and advocate for the integration of climate-smart management practices into New England’s productive farming communities through education, outreach, and policy. Before joining AFT, Emily was an assistant professor of environmental science at Westfield State University. She earned her Doctorate in plant and soil sciences from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where her research focused on improving soil health and carbon sequestration through the application of biochar and implementation of climate-smart management practices. She also holds a Master of Science Education from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry from Kenyon College in Ohio. 

Phelps Turner – CLF – Senior Attorney, Maine 

Phelps Turner is a senior attorney at Conservation Law Foundation, based in the Maine office. Phelps works in the Healthy Communities & Environmental Justice and Clean Energy & Climate Change programs. He advocates at the state and regional level for equitably and responsibly sited solar and wind energy resources necessary to achieve deep decarbonization goals in New England, and for policies and programs that support sustainable farming and natural resource protection. Before joining CLF, Phelps practiced environmental law in Boston. Phelps holds a B.A. and J.D. from McGill University. 

Sean Garren – Vote Solar – Senior Director, Northeast 

Sean manages Vote Solar’s work in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. He has led coalition efforts to expand access to solar in New York and Connecticut and continue critical solar policies, like net metering, in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Vote Solar he was the Legislative Director at Fair Share, an economic justice non-profit, where he set campaign strategy for the organization. Previously, he ran the federal clean energy program as Clean Energy Advocate at Environment America, a national network of state-based, grassroots environmental groups. Sean was born and raised in Massachusetts before graduating from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. 

Deborah Donovan – Acadia Center – Senior Policy Advocate and Massachusetts Director 

Deborah Donovan is Massachusetts Director and Senior Policy Advocate at Acadia Center, based in the Boston office. Deborah is engaged in all aspects of Acadia Center’s work on renewables, clean energy,  and climate policy,  with a focus on the Commonwealth and related regional decarbonization and electricity market issues. Her work is informed by an extensive career in policy analysis, advocacy, and mission-driven communications in Massachusetts and New England. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a B.S. in Natural Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

Genevieve Byrne – Vermont Law School – Assistant Professor and Staff Attorney 

Genevieve Byrne is an assistant professor and staff attorney for the Farm and Energy Initiative in the Institute for Energy and the Environment. Genevieve holds a J.D. from Lewis and Clark College of Law in Portland, OR, where she also received a Certificate in Natural Resources Law. Her experience includes American Farmland Trust, where she worked on agricultural land conservation and legislative research, and the Vermont Office of Legislative Council, where she focused on energy legislation. She has spent the last five years in public interest environmental litigation, representing citizen and nonprofit plaintiffs in suits related to nuclear and solar energy permitting and regulation. 

Funding for this project and these workshops has been provided by the John Merck Foundation, The Barr Foundation, and National Agricultural Libraries.