From Vision to Impact: Sol Systems’ Journey Towards a Community-Focused Clean Energy Economy

From Vision to Impact: Sol Systems’ Journey Towards a Community-Focused Clean Energy Economy

Community Impact |
By Adaora Ifebigh

In the three years following our inaugural Power Purchase Agreement announcement with Microsoft in 2020, we have significantly expanded our commitment to invest in under-resourced communities and climate change-impacted communities. This groundbreaking strategy started with 5 community organizations in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. In 2023, we concluded the year by supporting 15 community impact organizations across the Eastern Seaboard of the United States backed by funding and support from two additional corporate customers, Google, and Gas South.

Leaning into Sol Systems’ focus on a “Pathway to Solarization” especially for under-resourced communities, our partnerships have been instrumental in creating community-centered programs that promote clean energy access, facilitate critical home repairs for energy efficiency, and bolster education and workforce development programs that provide wraparound services for program participants. These initiatives are designed to provide comprehensive support to participants. We shared our journey, lessons learned, and opportunities at various events throughout the year, collaborating closely with our partners, industry experts, and federal agency representatives.

Sol Systems Community Impact Engagement Series

The Sol Systems Community Impact Engagement Series hosted two significant webinars. The first, "From IRA to BIL – Available Funding to Accelerate Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Equitable Workforce Development," offered insights into funding opportunities under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The second webinar, "Reducing Energy Burden: Enabling Access to Solar and Resiliency through Pre-Weatherization and Energy Efficiency," showcased our integrated approach to ensuring universal clean energy access.

Industry Partner Events

A key highlight was our participation in the Rural Renaissance Roadshow, organized by Groundswell, Inc., in Northwest Arkansas. This event brought together rural energy practitioners to discuss the future of local clean energy, innovative partnerships, and funding for rural community programs.

Joined by our partners, Appalachian Voices, and Aiken Electric Cooperative, we hosted a session, “The Power of Partnerships: Leveraging Scale for a Successful Community-Centered Clean Energy Development,” which emphasized the importance of collaboration in achieving impactful community-centered clean energy projects.

A Rewarding Journey

Since launching our first-of-its-kind impact initiative, our journey has been filled with learning experiences and achievements, affirming our dedication to making clean energy accessible to all, especially for under-resourced communities. Celebrating the solar installation at the City of Refuge in Baltimore, a faith-based organization that supports families and individuals on their path out of a crisis with Groundswell in October was a memorable and rewarding moment. This event symbolized the tangible impact of our collaborative approach to expanding access to clean energy in communities where it is needed the most.

New Partnerships

While continuing our commitment to nurturing early career exposure to the clean energy industry, we fostered a new partnership to support middle and high schools in Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia. To date, over 20 teachers have participated in the KidWind training to implement renewable energy curriculum in their classrooms, and it is estimated that over 64,000 students will be impacted by this curriculum over time. Furthermore, we strengthened our relationship with electric cooperatives, who provide services to 92% of the counties in the United States facing persistent poverty. This was achieved through a targeted initiative in the Carolinas, designed to "close the pre-weatherization gap" by addressing essential health and safety home repairs in over 100 homes across the region producing an estimated 604 MWh of energy savings, $74,000 of electricity cost savings per year, and over 400 MT of CO2 avoided.

Future Possibilities

Inspired by Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the Places You'll Go," we are excited about the future possibilities. Our ongoing and new partnerships, especially around our solar project sites, promise even greater impacts in the years to come. We look forward to the journey ahead, committed to expanding our community impact and fostering an equitable transition to a clean energy economy.

Recent Articles...