Community Solar on State

Workshop 1 - Output

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:10 -- mxw142

Opening exercises and questions

John Boecker (Facilitator: 7Group) kicked off the workshop by asking the question:

  1. “Think about an agonizing project you participated in in the past.”
  2. “Now, think of a project or experience you have personally had that, in your experience, was deeply fulfilling.”
  3. “What made the difference between these two images?”

Differences that emerged from this question were:

  • Good communication vs. bad/no communication
  • Command and control structures - Hierarchy made the decisions without team input
  • Collaboration vs. lack of collaboration
  • Not a true commitment or will to do the project in a certain way
  • Developing and realizing a collective purpose that meets the values of the business 
  • Collective trust among the varying organizations and team
  • Self-alignment with interests vs. determined requirements
  • Invitation to question assumptions vs. status quo
  • Less flexibility in how resources were allocated
  • Access to information
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities vs. ambiguity

Project Distinctiveness

Participants talked with others at their table about the question “What is unique and special about this particular place?”  Individual responses were then shared with the larger group:

  • Cultural and knowledge resources with Penn State
  • Education highly valued
  • Temperate climate: Four distinct seasons with high moisture content - no extremes
  • Family oriented
  • Access to outdoor activities and parks network
  • Ridge and valley informs/creates healthy soil and water, but Karst components
  • Complex political structure with intergovernmental, proactive cooperation
  • Insulated metropolitan center
  • Highly transient population with flow of new vitality
  • Potential influence on other communities
  • Great trout streams
  • Not economically diverse - Penn State + Agriculture ($4.5 billion annually), but recession-proof
  • Extremely low crime rate
  • Arbor Day Tree City: uniquely combined with technology and agriculture, highly valuing all three
  • Experienced collectively a major destabilizing event
  • Proactively risk adverse
  • Gentle rolling landscape: Farmland/forests/streams with iconic landmarks (Mt. Nittany)
  • Philanthropic spirit
  • Seasonal air quality changes - generally quite high
  • Live/work community
  • “Sunnier than Seattle”
  • International diversity within an insular location
  • Rooted families and transients


Explore Potential 

John asked each table to think about the activating forces through personally imaging the single greatest affect one would want to make manifest through this Community Solar on State project.  He then asked to think of the resisting forces or risks for this particular project.  Individual responses were then shared with the larger group.

Through this exercise, two frameworks were shared and elaborated on by the facilitator:

Law of Three Framework

This framework images the necessity of restraints to engage and develop creative outcomes through discovery of reconciling (or harmonizing) processes by focusing on Potential: (from Charles Krone)


Levels of Thought Framework

This framework images an instrument for developing an integrative process that significantly increases the likelihood that the resultant effects on the whole will align with our values when we take the time to align around our collective beliefs, philosophies, and principles before design.  (from Carol Sanford)

Beliefs                               Belief -- How we believe “things work”

Philosophies                      Philosophy -- Our approach

Principles                           Principles -- Guides to action










Most projects start somewhere in the middle section between strategies and design.  The fulfilling and agonizing parts of project generally come into play with alignment around purpose, trust, good communication, lack of command and control structure.  Without going into too much depth, this generally means that we are talking about aligning around beliefs, philosophies, and principles. 

What are our Activating Forces?
  • Cultivating trust and creative power in town/gown relationship
  • Energy independence
  • Demonstrate honest economic gain
  • Energy literacy
  • Tap and charge the “Peoplevoltaic” Energy ®
  • Shift mindset to think about energy resources like other infrastructure as local issues
  • Use this as a pilot to affect mainstream adoption and legislative change
  • An instrument for disseminating knowledge and experience with renewable energy beyond here (this community) … manifest outreach
  • Cultivate a culture of solar farming
  • Develop strong interrelationships/partners between community/education/government/utility/finance entities
  • See PVs as a small part of a larger system of integrative renewable energy sources
  • Enhance personal agency among our citizens in making this a better place … “Empowerment” … Building capacity and capability (regenerative)
  • Develop effective community connectness
  • Generate multi-generational outreach


What are our Resisting/Restraining Forces?
  • Need creative thinking about economics/financial solutions
  • Don’t see our role and will as effecting economics/resources
  • Need for communicating how to create new ownership models (or use existing that effectively leverage incentives)
  • Inertia of our current ostensible satisfaction (resistance to change - the perception that it ‘ain’t broke’)
  • Economic stake
  • Not just a demonstration
  • Overcoming fear and distrust from old wounds
  • Perception that this is a Penn State project without community participation, transparency, and vision
  • Understanding our active role(s) in participatory implementation
  • Current administrative/governmental structures/processes
  • Single industry “company town”


Key Stakeholders Framework (pentad) and Value-Adding Processes (VAPs)

John introduced the idea of the key stakeholders framework.  The idea behind it is that for an organization, institution, entity, or business to be sustained and evolve into greater levels of health, capability, and vitality over time, five stakeholder groups need to be served, and they are interrelated in the ways they also serve each other. (framework from Carol Sanford, The Responsible Business)

For any project, the number of stakeholders per category will vary (e.g. the number of local government groups involved in this particular project), and the stakeholders may also dynamically overlap (e.g. a Penn State employee may be a Co-Creator by day and a Community member by night).   It is important to identify every stakeholder as part of the project process and ensure value-adding processes are delivered to each identified group.

The Value-Adding Processes move beyond simply “value add”, which was interpreted as the outcome of Charlie Krone’s research, to be a dynamic and indefinite process of delivering value to each stakeholder.

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Dynamic Value Adding Processes to Each Key Stakeholder

Develop and align around Principles

Workshop attendees were randomly assigned one of the five key stakeholders for small group work, regardless of which stakeholder group they most strongly identified with.  Each group then developed the following:

  1. Draft Definition of their stakeholder group
  2. Draft Principles
  3. Draft Value Adding Processes

The following organizes the draft definitions, and draft Value Adding Processes (VAPs) from each group.

Draft Definitions


Draft Principles

Draft VAPs


Transcriptions of Each Stakeholders’ Notes
1. Users

Draft Definitions

  • Users of End Power
  • Users of Learning
  • Users of Inspiration and Story

Draft Principle

  • Empower imaginations

Draft VAPs

  • Lifelong learning through multiple access points (web) to draw from and input best practices
  • Developing realistic belief in our capacity to enact sustained arcs of development as partnerships

2. Co-Creators

Draft Definitions

  • Citizens
  • Non-Governmental organizations
  • Government
  • Borough
  • Municipalities
  • Townships
  • County
  • Parks and Rec
  • Paid staff
  • Volunteers

From Summary Page #5

Must Have 

Building Capability To ...

1. Incentive

  •  Emotional
  • Financial
  • Research

2. Resources

  • Connections
  • Buy-in
  • Communication
  • Stick to it - tenacity
  • Materials/Tools
  • Knowledge
  • Access

Draft Principles (Co-Creators Group)

  • Active + Aware of objective listening
  • Engage and educate and motivate
  • Active collaboration → Work together to active collaborative group first vs. the first

Co-Creators Notes from Pages 1-4

Active Role

  • Human energy/ creativity
  • Give time, thoughts
  • Boots on the ground
  • Self chosen, others chosen
  • Ability to be wrong and learn
  • Establish structure
  • Community → Others, Continuity/stabilizing force
  • Creativity/Problem solver/Negotiator

Must have?

  • Time (Capacity)
  • Commitment
  • Empowerment
  • Determination, perseverance, drive + openness + listening
    • Evolution/engage with community
  • Knowledgeable 
  • Direction → Goal Vision
  • Inclusive → Everyone included
  • Listening, flexible, evolve - while maintaining mission
  • Active/birthing
  • Vision?
  • Will?


  • One stop shopping
  • More than volunteer
    • Job
    • Sustainable
  • Framework for engagement
    • Respectful/open
    • Scheduling/predictability/respect for multiple competing objectives
  • Educate → Ups and downs, examples of things can do
  • Programs/milestones/measurable/acknowledgeable 
    • Metric
    • Way to access goal/involvement
  • Sense of satisfaction
  • Buy in
    • Authority
    • Engagement
    • (Protection) 
      • Must be brought in early belief
      • Listening
  • Cultivate(?) enthusiasm
  • Fairness
  • Respect
  • Accountability/Responsibility
    • Don’t drop the ball
  • Trustworthiness
    • Genuine:
      • Interest
      • Belief
      • Predictability
  • Viability
    • Value added
    • Live up to expectations
    • Build engagement/excited
  • Develop vision/mission together
    • Ownership
    • Buy-in
    • Collaboration: 
      • People working together for common end
      • Sharing/cooperating knowledge/info/resources/contacts (anything that benefits others)
      • Resource pool
  • Social → Play nice
    • Socially adept
  • Inquisitive/curious
    • Don’t get mad, get curious
    • Not taking things personally
    • See opportunity in difference
  • Active listening
  • Alignment vs. mismatch
    • Disconnect in hearing
    • Disconnect in experience
  • Consensus building
    • Work together

3. Earth Systems

Draft VAP

  • Positive net benefit (caring for Earth)


Draft Principles

  • Use true eco balance sheet
  • Extend eco-thinking to other situations


4. Community

Draft Purpose Statement

To indefinitely enhance the environment/habitat of those affected by the project (community)

In an integrative way that adds to culture, aesthetics, embraces changes, and openness

So that more people are positively impacted

Draft Principles

  • Continually fostering mutual healthy relationships
  • Respect and inclusion in decision-making processes (freedom of choice)
  • Consciousness of all stakeholders in decision-making

5. Investors

Net Metering

Tax Incentives


    B corporations?

Who are investors?

  • First Energy



  • Emissions reductions
  • ROI …? %
  • Long term fixed rate electricity
  • Green energy
  • Mechanism to sell shares

**Formation of an entity of investors

  • Locally sourced

Draft Principles

  • Contributes to the local commonwealth
  • Investment improves public perception of power providers
  • Value in piloting project
  • Legal requirements …
  • Demonstrate value of community solar project
  • Make decisions that demonstrate connection between local environment and economy
  • B-corporation, measurable


Develop first iteration of Project Purpose


New groups were determined randomly to develop draft purpose statements for the CSOS project

Draft Purpose Statements

DRAFT Collective Purpose Statement Group #1 Group #2 Group #3 Group #4
To develop a community-created solar photovoltaic array in Happy Valley To develop a local community-created solar photovoltaic array as an instrument … To create a community-based PV system in Happy Valley To work collaboratively to create a visible and public energy that develops local PV projects To transition to a relocalized sustainable economy and culture (energy)
In a way that evolves transparently, enhances living systems, and values the voices of the community (both individual and collective), In a way that can be expanded locally, creates a “tool box” for new challenges, brings stakeholders together, and pushes us to regenerative potential over compromise, and respects lives in the environment In a way that is replicable and demonstrates value In a storied and imaginative way  In a way that people are empowered to individually and collectively create new projects
So that future local energy projects embed energy resilience as a cultural value that enhances the quality of life in our region and empowers imaginations in this community indefinitely So that energy resilience is embedded as a cultural value of the region, empowering imaginations So that all stakeholders enthusiastically foster energy independence and reduce reliance on fossil fuels/nuclear to enrich and improve the unique quality of life in this particular community indefinitely To further develop towards a healthy and transformative energy future here and elsewhere So that the quality of life is improved



Purpose Discussion

  • Evaluate/acknowledge other renewable energy systems (PV as “keystone species”) with high visibility as a catalyst in purpose statement (as a component of will)
  • PV as an instrument for engaging and generating whole system strategies

Next Steps

  • Workshop report
    • First iteration of project purpose
    • Products: VAPs for key stakeholders with guiding principles
    • Solicit feedback/input
  • Schedule Workshop #2
    • Develop place-sourced concept
    • Identify initial strategies
    • “Criteria for developers” RFP
  • Develop arc of key milestones 
    • Installed system by end of 2016
  • Develop, identify and expand attendees (see task cycle)
  • Explore alternatives and determine administrative/corporate structure for implementation 
    • Identify associated implications
  • Develop task cycle for workshop #2
    • Development what “concept” needs to include
    • Purpose
    • Products
    • Process
  •  Aim at clearly defining administrative “entity” in a transparent, inclusive way
  • Explore implications of grid-tied system