Kristal Knowles on Groundswell’s team, who is gifted with an extraordinary voice and a keen intuition, always reminds us of the importance of joy in our work. And I can think of no better time of year to celebrate in that spirit, be grateful for the opportunities we have had this year to help others, and look forward with hope towards the year to come.

Grateful to Serve

Because of Groundswell’s work building community power, we get to know people all over the country who are working together with their neighbors to help each other and get good things done.

In Washington DC, we’re working with the Discalced Carmelite Friars to build a community solar project that will serve more than 50 families with local, affordable clean power. We’ll be sharing our progress and – if you live in DC – will be reaching out to ask if you’d like to sign up as this project comes online. It’s the first of many in the community, all of which are designed to equitably share power through electricity savings, investment, asset ownership, and jobs.

In Baltimore, we’ve joined with The Economic Empowerment Coalition to bring community solar and energy storage to The Empowerment Temple. By working collaboratively with A.F. Mensah and our friends at USGBC, we’re connecting solar opportunities with resilience, sustainability, jobs, and entrepreneurship in service to Empowerment’s vision. Groundswell was recognized as a Community Solar Subscriber Management Organization (that’s a mouthful!) this year by the State of Maryland, and the Empowerment project is already in the state’s community solar pilot queue. Look for more developments and how you can get involved as we enter the New Year.

For all of our community partners, including those whose rooftop and real estate may not be suitable for solar, we help them switch their source of electricity to clean wind power to cut their bills and support a healthier climate. In the states that Groundswell serves with wind power – DC, MD, DE, PA, and NJ – many small businesses, schools, churches and faith organizations, and nonprofits can reduce electricity costs by more than 20% by switching to wind. It’s a great opportunity to take the money you save and put it back into the mission.

Taking Joy in Good Work

Groundswell’s team has fun together. All of us are united by a values-based commitment to Groundswell’s mission of building community power, and that brings joy to even the toughest deadlines and the hardest work. Check out our Holiday Party Pictures, and you can see that even the most vicious game of Mafia can’t break the fellowship.  :)

We’re also blessed with a big extended family that adds to the joy, including the communities we serve; the team of experts who are partners in our work; our supporters and board of directors who share our belief in the mission; and our friends and colleagues working in the field. We love them all, and can never say “thank you” enough.

Groundswell also honors and celebrates each of our individual families, which is why our offices are closed from Christmas through the New Year.

Looking Ahead with Hope

Community power is about communities coming together to help each other get good things done. While how to share power through community solar depends on state-by-state laws and other important aspects of local utility and energy markets, the opportunities are abundant and depend largely on local community leadership. For example, you might be surprised to know that rural America is leading in community solar through the member-focused work of Municipal Utilities and Rural Electric Co-Ops across the country – like in Ouachita, Arkansas. Rural Co-Ops serve more than 90% of American counties that struggle with persistent poverty, so they are also pioneers in equitably serving all of their members regardless of income.

In collaboration with our friends at The Ray, we’re excited to be advancing a pioneering project in Georgia. It’s my home state, and so I do take more than a little pride that Georgia is the fourth state in the country for solar overall and continues to move on up! We look forward to Groundswell’s project showing how community solar can help communities share power in the Southeast.

Groundswell is also excited to be joining project teams in New York and Mississippi, too. Groundswell’s Associate Director for Communications and Public Policy, Quentin Anderson, would like to see community power come to his home state of Louisiana as well – so if anyone out there is working on a project and wants to talk, we want to hear from you. Partnership is leadership, and where what we’ve learned and how we do our work can help colleagues in other states, we will be there to share.

Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and a New Year abundant with Hope and Joy,

With gratitude,

- Michelle