Baltimore, Maryland — To commemorate and honor Juneteenth, WeSolar launched today as the first Black woman-owned community solar company in the country with a mission of bringing under-represented neighborhoods access to local community solar farms and assisting commercial properties with energy efficiency. Through WeSolar, utility customers in under-represented communities will now access solar energy via local offsite solar farms, creating economic resilience during a pandemic and economic uncertainty for those who have been historically marginalized.
At a virtual press conference, Founder and CEO Kristal Hansley spoke along with Tamara Toles O’Loughlin, North America Director at 350.org, Nabeehah Azeez, Chair of the Environmental and Climate Justice (ECJ) Committee for the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP, Lynn Heller, Founder/CEO Climate Access Fund, and Gary Skulnik, Founder/CEO of Neighborhood Sun on the goals and mission of WeSolar amidst a global clean energy revolution.
“WeSolar’s mission is to be a representation of the people that we’re serving by bringing community solar to communities of color in under resourced populations like Baltimore and Camden, New Jersey,” said Kristal Hansley, CEO of WeSolar. “I’m really honored to be picking up the baton that our ancestors have left for us to bring affordable and accessible clean energy to homes that never had it before.”
With community solar, developers construct medium to large-scale solar installations on offsite locations that may be distant from the point of consumption. Individual retail customers can either subscribe to blocks of electricity or purchase a portion of the solar panels in such installations and receive credits on their bills. As a result, a broader range of customers can benefit from solar energy without installing solar panels on their own rooftops. While traditional rooftop solar maintains a high barrier of entry for low and moderate-income families, community farming opens the solar market by 80% of the U.S. population, creating economic relief for low and moderate-income households through its accessibility and affordability.
Nabeehah Azeez spoke about the importance of environmental justice and said that the Baltimore branch of the NAACP was proud to stand with Kristal and excited for the future of WeSolar.
Currently, only 16 states, including D.C., have community solar programs. WeSolar is the first Black woman-owned community solar company in the country that markets and sells shared solar subscriptions which bridge the gap between the accessible gap in the solar market. WeSolar has farms within the BGE and PEFE (Potomac Edison) utilities in Maryland and PSE&G in New Jersey. By participating in WeSolar, the average household saves $250 a year and $6,000 over the course of 20 years-the average term life of solar panels, which may help Maryland’s goal to be 50% renewable by 2030. WeSolar plans to ensure underrepresented communities are a part of the state’s goal and benefit from its savings as well, and has already helped thousands of families in Maryland save over $250,000 on electricity.
Lynn Heller said that it was imperative for “Green banks” and institutions of financial privilege to redistribute wealth, and that investment in Black-owned community solar businesses is essential to planning for a sustainable Green future.
A recording of the press conference is available upon request.
WeSolar’s mission is to bring under-represented neighborhoods access to local community solar farms and to assist commercial properties with energy efficiency. Learn more at: www.wesolar.energy