Solar Energy Innovation Network – Addressing Barriers to Equitable Solar Adoption (Text Version)

This is the text version of the video Solar Energy Innovation Network – Addressing Barriers to Equitable Solar Adoption.

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[Text on screen: Solar Energy Innovation Network – Addressing Barriers to Equitable Solar Adoption]

>> Kamyria Coney, NREL researcher: The Solar Energy Innovation Network, or SEIN, is a place where we bring together multiple stakeholders together to solve these solutions in solar adoption.

So, really just bringing together different stakeholders to help provide insights on how they can better adopt solar in their communities.

>> Ofa Matagi, Clean Energy Access and Equity associate, Utah Clean Energy: Just to be able to hear how people are thinking things through, it's kind of like a think tank, where we're coming together, where people are having different perspectives and views. And for me, I find that so valuable to be able to be in a place to see how people are navigating their own projects.

>> Andreas Karelas, founder and executive director, RE-volv: I think for small organizations that are getting started or are working on hard-to-solve problems, having the Department of Energy and NREL support you is so massive. It's so hard to put into words how valuable that is.

>> Te'Rel Bowman, Solar Energy Equity Development project manager, ReThink Energy Florida Inc.: These are challenges all over the country and it's great to see that other organizations are facing some of these same challenges. And being able to rely on camaraderie and conversation and shared interest with other folks and learn what they're doing.

>> Isaiah Kamrar, program manager, African American Alliance for Homeownership: So, our program's goal is to train people in the community to have conversations with homeowners and eventually renters about solar and renewable energy.

>> Melvin White, president, Digital Workforce Academy: What success looks like for this project is, one, we're educating people on solar. Two, we've been able to successfully stand up resilient centers for people that's been displaced, who potentially can be displaced during a disaster. And three, see how we're able to then implement this technology on residential homes that's throughout the area.

>> Ofa Matagi: Our west side communities, which is the community that we're focusing on, has historically been disadvantaged and out-resourced. We want to be able to have a tangible pathway for people to—on our west side community that are business owners to be able to have finance options to be able to adopt solar and storage.

>> Te'Rel Bowman: The three neighborhoods that we're targeting are—live and reside within the poorest zip code in the state of Florida. So, when you look at the energy burden where they're spending upwards of 16% of their income on utilities.

A lot of times, these residents are dictated to after policies have been made, so we wanted to make sure that these residents had a chance to help shape those policies.

>> Isaiah Kamrar: Our people in a lot of ways are in a hole that's been dug for them. And it's a matter of filling in that hole through investment, through engagement, through the work that's on-the-ground work that really understands what it needs—what models are needed to make sure that these people can even just stand on solid ground.

>> Melvin White: I think it's good being able to put solar panels on homes, but how do we actually create sustainable business models in these underrepresented communities?

Those are things that I think are absolutely critical when you start talking about this technology and the future of it.

>> Talethia Edwards, community advocate and coalition builder working with the Solar Energy Equity Deployment Project: These communities are prime for this kind of project to actually explore what it looks like, what—learn what energy efficiency is. What is an energy burden? Do you even understand those things? And then, next, solar. How does it benefit? And what can it do now and what generationally will those effects be?

>> Ofa Matagi: And what I think is so beautiful is just what I've already started to see in our engagement with our community members—that these business owners have a—most of them have a personal vested interest in this project. They want to do great things for their business, but they also want to be able to contribute to an overall vision and mission to be able to make our communities more environmentally aware and understand the opportunities that they can take advantage of.

>> Kamyria Coney: With the Innovation Network, what's so unique about it is that it's not just NREL or DOE is providing funding. No, we're collaborating. We're a partnership with these communities and with these teams. It's not just "Here's the money. Go figure it out." It's like, "No, let's do this together.

>> Andreas Karelas: What's happening here is historic. Having conversation like this and bringing the groups together who are working on the real challenges on the ground and figuring out how to solve them, because this is where—if we solve these problems, then it opens the door to really accelerate equitable clean energy as quickly as possible.

[Text on screen: Solar Energy Innovation Network – Addressing Barriers to Equitable Solar Adoption]

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