The Empowerment Temple to Serve as a Baltimore Resilience Hub
Partners with Groundswell to bring Pioneering Community Solar + Battery Storage Project to West Baltimore
Empowerment project seizes an emerging opportunity for community economic development for Baltimore
Baltimore, MD – The Empowerment Temple and its affiliated nonprofit community development corporation, The Economic Empowerment Coalition (TEEC) – both West Baltimore community anchors and forces for local economic development – have partnered with the City of Baltimore to serve as a Resilience Hub for the neighborhood. Through TEEC’s collaboration with Groundswell, the Resilience Hub will include one of Maryland’s first combined community solar and battery storage projects, which will deliver on-site green technology training and job opportunities.
“This collaboration with Groundswell will continue to further the mission of Empowerment Temple” said Jamal Bryant, who championed the project while serving as Empowerment Temple’s Pastor. “We’re now able to provide clean energy, economic empowerment to the least, left behind and looked over.”
“TEEC’s mission is to economically empower our community through entrepreneurship, real estate development, and cooperative economics,” said Anthony W. Robinson, Chair of TEEC. “Building on our City’s leadership, we envision Baltimore as a thriving entrepreneurial hub for sustainable and clean energy technologies. Partnering with the City of Baltimore as a Resilience Hub not only enables us to serve the community in a time of need, incorporating community solar and energy storage into the Resilience Hub will also expose our community to new technologies on the cutting edge of an emerging industry. Constructing these projects will enable new opportunities for local business, jobs, and wealth creation.”
“Baltimore’s commitment to establishing Resiliency Hubs cannot come at a more critical time,” said Lisa McNeilly, Sustainability Director of the Baltimore Office of Sustainability. “At this very hour, our nation’s coastal communities are facing the onslaught of extreme weather or working to bounce back from its aftermath. That’s why the Baltimore Office of Sustainability is honored to support residents by making sure they are prepared for whatever natural or man-made hazards come our way. This exciting partnership with Empowerment Temple and Groundswell will provide much-needed emergency assistance to many of our most vulnerable community members.”
“Groundswell’s mission is building community power, and we are grateful to serve The Empowerment Temple and The Economic Empowerment Coalition to realize their vision connecting solar power to economic empowerment,” commented Michelle Moore, CEO of Groundswell. “The City’s pioneering Resilience Hub program means that Baltimore is at the epicenter of innovation in clean energy technology. Our shared vision is that this project will help ignite thriving, local economic opportunities for the people of Baltimore in the solar industry.”
The City of Baltimore’s Resiliency Hub program is the first of its kind in America. Designed to provide priority support for neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to natural hazards, major community emergencies, and the impacts of climate change, Resiliency Hubs provide people with access to a safe daytime location, heating and cooling in the event of an emergency, and access to fresh water. As a Resiliency Hub, The Empowerment Temple will provide support to up to 2,500 people from the neighborhood during weather and other hazard events, coordinating with City resources and other partner organizations, as part of a city-wide effort to increase Baltimore’s resilience.
Through the combined community solar and battery storage project Groundswell is developing, The Empowerment Temple will also be able to keep the lights, heating, and cooling systems running even in the case of a power outage – providing additional resilience to the neighborhood. The community solar project, which is currently completing final engineering and permitting, will deliver locally generated power from the sun to an estimated 100 families.
In service to TEEC’s mission, the design and construction of the community solar and battery storage project will deliver job training, credentialing, workforce readiness, and local employment opportunities to the community in both the solar installation and energy storage fields. "We plan to develop a workforce not only for this emerging industry, but to address the workforce challenges in mature industries such as public utilities and aging infrastructure,” according to Robinson. TEEC has already begun training a 24-person Green Team that will help to lead community engagement and on-site sustainability programs.
Representing this vision, A.F. Mensah, national leader in energy storage and an African-American founded and led company, is at the helm of project design and engineering. Sun Catch, an African-American founded and led solar construction company, is partnering with A.F. Mensah to deliver the project.
TEEC’s leadership is indicative of a powerful opportunity to link the growth of the solar and energy storage markets to community economic development for Baltimore. Low density and low-rise development outside the downtown core of Baltimore present significant opportunities for solar investment, with thousands of locations potentially providing the minimum space required for a solar installation. Many of the most economically challenged neighborhoods in Baltimore are strong candidates for the development of community-scale solar installations, holding the potential to transform Brownfield sites and vacant properties into community energy assets that generate clean power, cost savings, and local jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. Moreover, the growth of the solar industry is responsible for 1 in 50 new jobs in America. Investing in resilience and deploying more community solar and energy storage projects in Baltimore can help make sure Baltimore not only has more jobs, but that the people of Baltimore are represented among America’s energy entrepreneurs.
ABOUT THE EMPOWERMENT TEMPLE
Empowerment Temple Church opened its doors in April of 2000 in Baltimore, MD. The church began with just 47 members, and today is acclaimed as one of the fastest-growing African Methodist Episcopal church in the denomination’s 200-year history. Its congregation has grown to more than 10,000 members with countless others streaming online from around the world. Empowerment’s mission is to “empower people spiritually, develop them educationally, expose them culturally, activate them politically, and strengthen the economically.”
ABOUT THE ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT COALITION
The Economic Empowerment Coalition is a nonprofit community development corporation whose mission is to transform the quality of life for at-risk families in the Baltimore and the District of Columbia by providing the bridge to self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship and community-based employment and education services.
Groundswell is a 501c3 nonprofit that builds community power. Groundswell develops community solar projects and subscriber management programs that connect solar power with economic empowerment, enabling neighbors to work together to Share Power© and substantial energy savings with low-income households. Groundswell believes that clean energy is a necessity, not a luxury; we’re all in this together; and we can’t afford to leave our neighbors behind.