Winneshiek Energy District

DIY Local Solar Workshop

Consumer-owned solar is a robust, cost-effective option for many home, farm, and business owners today. It is good for the pocketbook, good stewardship, and a great way to keep energy dollars local and promote healthy, wealthy, and resilient communities.

A local solar workshop is an effective way to accelerate local adoption and catalyze local solar market transformation. Don't know much about solar? No problem - you know your community, and this page provides a "toolkit" of resources and templates to help you pull off a successful workshop. NOTE, there are endless variants of solar workshops and presentations and audiences - we're presenting a replicable model and outline that we've used successfully over half a dozen times, but by all means, adapt it as you see fit!

Step 1: Determine organizational lead, create steering committee or working group

  • Read through our DIY PDF - it corresponds to this web page, with extensive notes and advice on the pdf, and links and other resources here on the web page
  • Make sure you have a principal coordinator, and others in supporting roles
  • Remember that local partners/organizations may not be on the steering committee but may be very helpful with marketing, communications, even funds

Step 2: Pick and time and place and geographic scope for outreach (more notes on the DIY PDF)

  • There is no perfect time, we've held many on Tues/Th afternoons, though for some Saturdays work well
  • You'll want a hall that can seat between 50 and 100, and expo space for at least half a dozen contractor tables in the main room or a wide hallway
  • To incorporate optional site visits/mini-tours to current solar owners (e.g. a home and a farm), daytime is better than evening
  • As outlined in step 3, an expo+presentation+owner panel+site visits can run roughly 1pm to 4 or 4:30pm

Step 3: Content planning - put the pieces together and increase the resources available to participants (more notes on the DIY PDF)

Step 4: Marketing and communications! (more notes on the DIY PDF)

  • Create a web site home page (live example, or pdf) for the workshop with a brief outline, agenda, AND REGISTRATION form (example)
  • Plan radio spots (sample), newspaper PR (sample), even write a feature on local solar owners and submit it to local paper/s
  • Work closely with organizations such as Chamber of Commerce, SWCD, agencies, ag/producer groups, conservation/enviro groups
  • Use not only social media but social networks of all kinds to the fullest

Step 5: Do it, wrap it up, follow up ... and plan another (more notes on the DIY PDF)

  • Be onsite and ready early with seating, multimedia, refreshments, contractor tables, etc
  • An simple agenda can help, and can be combined with a map/s for optional site visits, and a resource list
  • Facilitate a great experience, don't fret the little things, we've had local events with as few as 5 and as many as 100 participant
  • Consider followup with contractors, participants on good, bad, ugly
  • You now have the seeds of a local clean energy partnership - talk to us about joining the Energy District Movement!

Additional Resources


This web page was prepared by Winneshiek Energy District under grant award No. SP-16-005 from the Iowa Energy Center. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Iowa Energy Center.