The Georgia Solar Energy Association awarded its 2016 Solar Advocate Award to Shan Arora, program manager for Southface, at its annual holiday celebration on Thursday, December 15.
Arora created and manages www.GeorgiaEnergyData.org, an interactive website that provides current information on Georgia’s growing solar assets. He also conducts the annual Clean Energy Industry Census that shows the growth and economic contribution of Georgia’s clean energy industry.
In a video debuted as part of the awards presentation, https://bit.ly/2j0L82o, Georgia PSC Commissioner Tim Echols praised Southface for providing these useful services.
“The Georgia Public Service Commission relies on data to make informed policy decisions,” Echols said. “The PSC staff and commissioners like me use the Southface GeorgiaEnergyData.org website to track solar development all over our state. Both the solar map and the dashboard show Georgia’s solar landscape. This helps me as a Commissioner to know where solar energy is needed in the entire Georgia resource portfolio.”
When the website was created in 2012 under the leadership of Southface senior policy fellow John Sibley, the goal was to dispel doubts about whether solar was a viable energy source for the state, Arora said.
“We’ve got to have the data to show it’s already here,” Arora said. “That begins a conversation about the opportunities we’re not taking advantage of within this state.”
A logical extension of Southface’s work in tracking Georgia’s solar energy assets was to quantify the economic impact of Georgia’s clean energy industry. Shan works with colleagues at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, www.energync.org, as well as partners in South Carolina and Virginia to conduct an annual four-state clean energy industry census. In 2015, Southface identified Georgia’s solar sector as providing 3,000 solar jobs and generating more than a half a billion dollars in gross revenue. The 2016 data, which will be released soon, shows that Georgia’s solar sector continues to grow in jobs and revenue.
Lisa Bianchi-Fossati, Southface policy director, said Arora’s work has been important in showing policymakers what solar contributes to the state economy.
“The tools that Shan developed have proven invaluable to the efforts of John (Sibley) and other solar advocates in the state as they work to advance solar-friendly policies here in Georgia,” she said.
The other finalists for the 2016 Solar Advocate Award were Jeff Pratt and Kerry Sibley of Green Power EMC for its Cooperative Solar Program, and Rachel Petry of Southern Power for developing the 1 MW solar research project at the University of Georgia.
GA Solar Chair Don Moreland congratulated Shan Arora and all of the finalists for this year’s Solar Advocate Award.
“The accomplishments of this year’s winner and finalists are a testament to the strength and potential of Georgia’s solar industry. We look forward to the growth and innovation the industry will contribute to the Georgia economy in 2017,” Moreland said.
For more information on Georgia’s solar industry and solar energy in Georgia, visit the GA Solar website at www.gasolar.org.