Today is Giving Tuesday, and as millions of Americans donate to their favorite NGO’s, we want to re-introduce how Groundswell is using our Share Power™ Community Solar program to bring affordable clean energy to people across the district and show how you can join us. 

In light of the deepening climate crisis and growing concerns over clean air and water, clean energy has emerged as the clear alternative to Fossil Fuels. All across the nation, in places like DC, Solar For All programs are being implemented to help cities and communities in the transition to renewable energy. Historically, solar and wind power has been reserved mostly for homeowners, which has made the necessary transition exclusionary, expensive, and exigent to introduce en masse. This is especially true for DC where 80 percent of residents rent their homes. Solar can also be costly, which makes taking advantage of this technology tough for most homeowners. I’ve seen this time and time again working in the climate and environmental justice movements. And despite calls for more ambitious renewable standards and subsidies to support communities who need it most, we’re still far from living in a society where everyone has access to clean energy. 

This is where the Share Power™ program comes into play, it’s a program that enables anyone with a utility bill — whether they rent or own their home — to subscribe to locally-produced electricity from a community solar project. Subscribers to the program receive a credit on their monthly utility bill, which offsets the subscription costs over the course of a year. Then we give a discount to families making a little less that could use a significant reduction to their utility bill. So instead of all of our subscribers receiving a ten percent bill reduction (or about enough for a latte or two per month), we give income-qualified subscribers a fifty percent reduction on their bill. For our income qualified or, “Empowered” subscribers, this could mean savings up to $500 per year. That’s five trips to the grocery store for a family that could be really struggling. 

I’ve spent the last few years working with large and small environmental organizations across the nation. And it was this program that brought me to Groundswell. What good is reducing emissions and or creating ambitious federal climate policy if it doesn’t address inequities that are at the center of the climate crisis, the wealth gap. This program lays the groundwork for a future where everyone can have affordable solar energy and the communities who’ve historically faced more and continue to pay more, will have a bit more headroom to invest in other things they need.  We’ve also eliminated lengthy contracts, upfront payments and credit checks — and other hurdles that have prohibited participation due to income level or credit score. 

Our approach matters because Empowered families contribute a disproportionate amount of their income towards their utility bills and this offering gives those families more money for essentials like rent, groceries, school supplies and healthcare. Sharing power is also how we can include these families as we build a more healthy, resilient and equitable society. 

So for this Giving Tuesday, consider signing up for one of our community solar projects here in DC, which is available to all Pepco subscribers who rent or own a home. For those of you beyond the beltway, consider making a donation. All of your donations will go towards our efforts to bring community solar and energy savings to people in the nation’s capital. 

The clean energy table is abundant, and Groundswell is working with local communities to give everyone a seat.