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First Black-Woman Led Community Solar Company Set To Build Solar Farm in Baltimore

First Black-Woman Led Community Solar Company Set To Build Solar Farm in Baltimore

She's looking to create more access to solar power for all!

The first Black-woman led community solar company has now partnered with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) to build a solar farm in Baltimore, reports.

Kristal Hansley is the founder and CEO of WeSolar, a company she started in 2020 to give under-resourced communities access to affordable, local community solar power. Hansley made history with the launch as the first Black woman community solar founder in the United States. The company helps eliminate barriers to solar energy adoption, allowing people to purchase shared solar power at a more affordable price while also helping commercial properties improve their energy efficiency. Consumers purchase their energy from a shared solar project in their local community that is transferred back into the grid to power homes. They then receive renewable energy credits that save money, reducing bills of low-to-moderate income households by a minimum of 25 percent.

“It’s very important that we continue to build on technologies like community solar because it creates the access that marginalized communities do not have. There are barriers that are associated with traditional rooftop solar, and it leaves a lot of people out of that just transition. This is really critical for those communities to now be a part of the change,” said Hansley.

Now WeSolar has announced a new partnership with UMMS to build a community solar farm in Baltimore City that will power city residents and UMMS facilities. The Medical System will pay $10,000 monthly for a period not to exceed 18months to support construction costs on the farm. When completed, the farm is estimated to generate eight megawatts of energy. According to the Energy Trust Blog, Black families are most likely to be unable to adequately meet household energy needs, the average energy costs of Black households coming in at 5.4 percent, in comparison to 3.3 percent for white households. 

In the city of Baltimore, 34 percent of Black households experience high energy burdens, denoted as any energy needs that exceed 6 percent. The city also has a disproportionately high energy burden for low-income households, coming in at 10.4 percent, higher than any other major U.S. city. It is Hansley’s hope that this partnership will help alleviate some of the energy insecurity in the city, creating a more equitable environment for Baltimore city residents. 

“This is what equity in the environmental health space looks like. This is the model, so for people that are looking for solutions to address energy burden and how larger institutions can leverage their buying power and meet their renewable energy goals, this is the example for that. I’m very proud to stand next to the University of Maryland Medical Center,” Hansley told reporters.

“Partnering with WeSolar is an incredible opportunity for the system to engage with a local company that, like us, is focused on ensuring the vitality of our community. Not only does this project make good business and economic sense for our system, but it is also an opportunity to demonstrate our responsibility as anchor institutions in the communities in which we are privileged to serve,” UMMS president and CEO Dr. Mohan Suntha told The Baltimore Sun.

A location for the solar farm has yet to be determined. To learn more about the work of WeSolar, visit their website here.

Photo Courtesy of Gary Landsman/Baltimore Magazine