NAACP Urges Utilities To Buy Into Community-Owned Solar

The Indiana NAACP wants investor-owned utility companies in the state to offer community-owned solar programs.

Community owned solar power enables people who otherwise couldn’t afford solar panels on their roof to own a solar project together. They can then receive credits on their bills for generated energy that they share with other customers.

The Indiana NAACP is working with WeSolar – a black women owned company – to develop community-owned solar projects whose energy can be purchased from utility companies.

Barbara Bolling-Williams is the President of the NAACP’s Indiana State Conference. She said these big utility companies owe it to the communities that the NAACP is trying to help.

“For years, the color communities have borne the burden of the power plants in their neighborhood, in their communities and the pollution they generate,” she said.

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Black, indigenous, colored and low-income Hoosiers also face disproportionately high energy costs and are more likely to suffer from the effects of climate change.

“If utilities buy in, we can help most people and hopefully reduce the energy burden for most people,” said Naadiya Hutchinson, who runs government relations for WeSolar.

Hutchinson said when a community owns its source of energy it can help build the local economy – board members can even choose to use savings on community projects.

“It’s all about who is building this generational wealth, and we hope they are community members rather than some of the larger entities,” she said.

WeSolar is also looking at grants and soft loans to help fund the solar projects, according to Hutchinson.

The Indiana NAACP and WeSolar conducted a survey to measure knowledge and interest in community-owned solar projects. They will also be hosting a virtual town hall on Thursday, June 24th at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Contact reporter Rebecca at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Environmental reporting in Indiana is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project that develops Indiana-specific projections and provides informed answers to problems related to environmental change.

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