EVs make car sharing even better

June 30, 2021

Visit any big city, and you’ll witness how shared transportation options have grown, from electric scooters tossed along sidewalks to bike and car sharing services. These can be a (relatively) cheap and easy way to zip around city streets. But the real potential of these shared services goes well beyond cities and well-heeled urbanites. In the case of car sharing, if the program is designed strategically—including prioritizing the use of electric vehicles (EVs)—there are prospects for a triple win:  convenient transportation, lower emissions, and more affordable mobility options for under-resourced populations.

Cost savings and convenience

Car sharing has a lot going for it. Worldwide, membership in car sharing organizations like Zipcar and Getaround—which offer users access to a fleet of ready-to-drive cars, typically via an app—doubled between 2016 and 2018, to more than 30 million. People are flocking to shared cars for a lot of reasons, but the main ones are convenience and cost savings. Car sharing (which is different from car rentals or ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft) offers the benefit of using a vehicle without the high costs associated with private car ownership, like insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking. Usually, vehicles are stationed in locations like residential neighborhoods or near public transit stations and universities, making them convenient for a wide range of users.

Lower emissions

Car sharing, if done well, can also be a great way to tackle rising emissions from transportation, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Studies show that when people gain access to a shared vehicle, they may get rid of their private car or avoid buying a new one; they also tend to walk, bike, or take public transit more. This brings other cascading benefits, including reducing the overall vehicle miles traveled and lowering traffic congestion and the demand for parking—all of which help slash driving-related emissions. Overall, the research points to a decrease in net greenhouse gas emissions among car sharing members, although it can depend on the context.

When electric vehicles enter the picture, there’s no question that car sharing is a win for the climate. Over their lifetime, emissions for EVs are three times lower than for internal combustion vehicles. While specific data on the emission savings from EV car sharing aren’t available, studies show that if you replace a conventional ride-hailing vehicle (like an Uber) with an EV, this can result in three times the emission reductions compared to a conventional vehicle. When EVs are powered by clean energy, like solar and wind power, they can contribute near-zero emissions. That’s why some ride-hailing services are starting to roll-out EVs.

The equity opportunity

Car sharing also has real potential to provide more equitable access to transport. So far, car sharing companies have focused on urban centers, but rural communities can actually benefit most from these services, due to the lack of density to support traditional public transit, biking, or other options. The typical car sharing user today tends to be young, with more education, a higher income, as well as easy access to the Internet, a smart phone, and banking services. Many popular car sharing services, which rely on an app linked to a bank account, end up excluding populations like the elderly and low-income households.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If designed with these audiences in mind, car sharing presents an opportunity to provide mobility to people who may not be able to afford the high cost of owning a car, or who simply don’t have access to other good transportation options. By making these services available to more people, including in lower-income and more remote neighborhoods, we can go even further in reducing emissions. Strategies for broadening access and improving equity in car sharing services include providing subsidies for low-income users, making these services more accessible to the “unbanked” and those without smartphones, and developing more inclusive and adaptive services.

Getting car sharing right: a few examples

To optimize the potential for car sharing to both reduce emissions and meet the needs of diverse and under-resourced communities, it has to be “done right.” So far, car sharing has been mostly led by private companies. But in recent years, non-profits and governmental agencies have also gotten in on the action, forming alliances and partnerships focused on shared mobility while keeping in mind equity and the benefits of electrified transport. Here are a few examples of car sharing that tick these boxes:

  • In 2016, the City of Los Angeles, California, signed a contract for an electric car sharing pilot project aimed at serving low-income residents. As of April 2019, BlueLA had deployed 80 EVs and 26 charging stations, all located in disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout Central LA. The goals of the program include: 1) recruiting at least 7,000 new car sharing users, 2) avoiding the purchase or sale of 1,000 private vehicles, and 3) reducing 2,150 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • In the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, the car-sharing nonprofit HOURCAR is developing an all-electric car sharing service and a network of charging hubs in historically underinvested communities. The EV Spot Network, set to launch this year, is a collaboration with Xcel Energy and the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and aims to add 150 shared EVs and 70 charging stations on city streets. The planning process has been largely community-driven. Based on feedback from local residents, HOURCAR has upgraded its system to approve new users quickly (within 24 hours), cut membership costs by 40 percent, and provide materials in several languages, including Somali and Hmong.
  • In Hood River, Oregon, Forth Mobility aims to show how EV car sharing can serve rural communities while also benefiting low-income residents and local businesses. The Clean Rural Shared Electric Mobility (CRuSE) Project is one of the first efforts in the country to bring lower-cost car sharing to a rural area. Under the three-year program, five EVs are stationed at affordable housing sites, the city center, and tourist destinations in Hood River. To make the program more accessible, the platform is providing iPads at the affordable housing sites to help people sign up, and is creating a Spanish version of its app. It also offers alternate payment options to support users without access to credit or banking, and tiered pricing (including subsidies) for different user groups.

Innovative transport solutions like EV car sharing are needed to help decarbonize the transport sector in an equitable way. By shifting away from private vehicles and toward less carbon-intensive (but still convenient!) modes of transport, by adding EVs to the mix, and by targeting programs at under-resourced communities, we can move even closer to that goal.


Take Action: Protect Clean Cars + Clean Air

June 29, 2021

Generation180 is joining electric vehicle advocates, climate organizations, and public health experts nationwide to urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restore state leadership on vehicle pollution regulation through the Advanced Clean Car Standards.

Not sure what that means? That’s okay! We’re here to walk you through it. Long story short, the Advanced Clean Cars Program is one of the most effective policies states can pass to accelerate electric vehicle (EV) adoption, but states need permission from the federal government to implement this program. The previous administration rescinded this permission, but now the EPA is considering reinstating it. To ensure that this authority is restored and accelerate EV adoption nationwide, the EPA needs to hear from EV advocates like you!

Submit Comments to Support EV Adoption

So how can you get involved? By helping us tell the EPA that it’s time to get more EVs on the road and restore the clean car standards! Comments are due by July 6th, and we’ve made it easy for you. Simply copy the text below and go to this link to submit your comment. Easy peasy!

Script to copy:

As an American who supports our nation’s transition to clean energy, I know that electric vehicles are an important solution to addressing the climate emergency. Therefore, I’m writing to express my support for the EPA’s restoration of the Clean Air Act waiver for state greenhouse gas pollution and zero-emission vehicle standards for cars and trucks.

The transportation sector is the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S., accounting for nearly one-third of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation sector also contributes significantly to pollution that negatively impacts public health, and these impacts are felt disproportionately by low-income communities and communities of color.

The previous administration’s decision to undercut state authority to tackle air pollution from vehicles took away a crucial tool for addressing climate and air pollution. It’s imperative that the EPA restore the clean car standards so that states can continue to lead in fighting climate change and transition to a clean energy economy. Enabling states to adopt and implement clean car standards will ensure we are protecting our communities and driving further investment in pollution-free transportation solutions.

Together, we can ensure that the U.S. enjoys zero-emissions vehicles, cleaner air, and a clean energy future for all.

Click here to submit your comment to the EPA by July 6th!


Your home is worth more with solar

June 23, 2021

Solar panels are growing more common everywhere—on local businesses and schools, maybe even on your neighbor’s house. That’s a sure sign that the solar revolution is going mainstream. In the first three months of this year (during a pandemic no less), Americans added 905 megawatts of residential solar—up 11 percent from the same period last year, and enough energy to power nearly 172,000 homes. But adding a home solar system is still a big decision, and you might be questioning whether it’s time to take the leap. Fortunately, there’s evidence that harnessing the sun’s power isn’t just good for the climate, it’s an excellent long-term investment in your home.

The solar home premium

Research from the real estate site Zillow shows that putting solar on your roof can boost the value of your home—sometimes significantly. In a comparative study, Zillow found that homes with solar energy systems sold for 4.1 percent more on average in 2019 than comparable homes without them. This means that the median-valued home in the country ($226,300) was worth an additional $9,274 just because of those magical panels. To arrive at this number, Zillow looked at all home sales over a one-year period and identified which listings featured solar in their descriptions, while controlling for a home’s size, age, location, and market value, as well as the time of year that it sold.

Like most things in real estate, how much of a boost you’ll get from solar depends a lot on where you live. Zillow found that New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina offer the highest solar premiums, with solar-clad homes in New Jersey selling for 9.9 percent more on average than homes without solar—an added value of $32,281 (see the top 10 states with the highest solar premiums).

Zillow found that New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina offer the highest solar premiums.

Some of the hottest individual markets are coastal metro areas like New York City (where the solar premium is 5.4 percent); Orlando, Florida (where the premium is 4.5 percent, compared to 4 percent statewide); and San Francisco (a 4.4 percent premium, or a boost of $41,658 on the median-priced home of $955,200). Importantly, Zillow notes, no U.S. metropolitan area saw home values drop due to solar panels (although some states, like Utah, didn’t have enough data to be covered in the study).

So why are houses with solar energy systems selling for more than those without them?

The allure of clean energy

A key reason for the boost in home values is that more buyers are recognizing the many benefits of clean energy—particularly the energy cost savings. By installing solar, you can reduce or even eliminate your electric bills, a significant monthly expense. According to Sunrun, one of the largest U.S. residential solar companies, customers that lease solar panels see an average utility bill savings of anywhere from 10 to 40 percent. This is because the company’s solar contract offers a fixed energy price per kilowatt-hour that’s typically lower than utility rates. In general, going solar offers more predictability on your bills, letting you lock in your monthly rate, so you’re protected against future cost increases related to a volatile energy market.

If you own the solar panels outright, the savings can be even higher. Studies show that the average American solar purchaser sees a return on investment of 20 percent or more, and that most solar panel systems pay for themselves many times over the course of their (often decades-long) lifetime. Importantly, the upfront cost of the panels isn’t as daunting if you can benefit from solar rebates and tax credits. According to the clean energy marketplace EnergySage, in 2019 the average home solar system cost $18,300 before tax credits and $12,810 after tax credits.

…most solar panel systems pay for themselves many times over the course of their (often decades-long) lifetime.

People are also taking the solar leap because of personal values, seeking to live cleaner, lower-carbon lifestyles in response to the climate crisis. According to estimates, a typical residential solar panel system will eliminate three to four tons of carbon emissions each year—the equivalent of planting over 100 trees annually. “More than 80 percent of buyers now say energy-efficient features are important in selecting their home,” said Sarah Mikhitarian with Zillow. “We are increasingly finding that these attributes are important to prospective homebuyers.”

Whether to lease or own

Ultimately, whether or not going solar pays off depends on a lot of different variables, from the shape of your roof and the direct solar irradiation it gets, to the cost of electricity (and overall energy costs) in your area. Also, homes that are larger or that consume a lot of energy may see bigger savings than homes that are already pretty efficient, making the upfront cost of solar panels more worthwhile. (Check out Google’s Project Sunroof to estimate your solar savings potential based on factors like roof shape, electricity rates, local weather patterns, and more.)

It also helps to consider whether you’re planning to buy the panels outright, or to lease them from a company like Sunrun or Tesla (often, with no money down). Solar leasing offers huge benefits in that you don’t have to spend a lot upfront, unlike with a cash purchase. According to Sunrun, more than 85 percent of customers do not buy the system outright but pre-pay a set amount and then make monthly service plan payments. When you’re ready to sell the home, you’ll have the option to either buy out the lease or get the solar leasing company to help find a buyer willing to take over the lease.

By 2030, an estimated 13.4 percent of U.S. homes are expected to have a residential solar system, but the share could (and needs to) ultimately be higher. As solar enters the mainstream, having panels on your house is starting to be another calculation to make when assessing your home’s value. So the next time you think about upgrading your kitchen or finishing your basement, consider adding a new solar array to the mix. It could be one of the best investments you make in your home.


What the f*** is FERC?

June 16, 2021

If you had to name the most influential American government agencies when it comes to clean energy and climate, you’d probably be able to come up with a few acronyms from the federal alphabet soup: the EPA, the DOE, NOAA. (That would be the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.)

The list goes on: NASA, NHTSA… and of course, we can’t forget FERC. You know, FERC? The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission? Yeah, if that one was not right on the tip of your tongue, you’re not alone.

Unless you’re an electric grid operator, your news feed likely isn’t dominated by headlines about FERC and its decisions. But that doesn’t mean the agency isn’t worth your attention. It has a great deal of sway over how, and where, the clean energy transition takes place.

What is FERC, and what does it do?

FERC’s mission, which it puts front and center on its website, is to ensure “economically efficient, safe, reliable, and secure energy for consumers.” Among other tasks, the agency sets policies on how electricity is valued and traded on wholesale markets. It decides whether new interstate gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals can be built. It also licenses and inspects non-federal hydropower projects.

Basically, if electricity, fossil (“natural”) gas, or oil is crossing state lines, FERC likely has something to say about it. The agency is led by up to five presidentially appointed commissioners, no more than three of which can be from the same political party. Recent FERC decisions have related to gas pipeline projects in Louisiana and North Dakota; fees for customers with rooftop solar in Alabama; and the timeline to better integrate electric storage on the grid in the Midwest.

That ’70s Show

When FERC was established in 1977, replacing the Federal Power Commission, computers looked like small, cumbersome televisions, and more than 77 percent of the country’s electricity came from fossil fuels—especially coal.

More than four decades later, fossil fuel’s share of the power mix is down to 60 percent. Renewable energy’s contribution, once confined to hydropower, has doubled to 20 percent, with more than half of that now coming from wind and solar. Today, computers fit into our pockets, and our energy system is also increasingly digital—a fact highlighted by the recent Colonial Pipeline cyber attack, which led to gasoline shortages on the East Coast.

Even 30 years ago, “the times were a lot simpler,” said FERC Commissioner Richard Glick, whom President Joe Biden appointed as FERC chairman, in a 2019 interview. “It was a lot easier to tell what a wholesale transaction was and a retail transaction was, and where distribution facilities stopped and transmission facilities began.”

That’s a fairly wonky way of saying that power used to basically flow one way: From large generation plants across long-distance transmission lines to the distribution system that sends power to homes and businesses.

Enter the Modern Grid

Today’s grid is far more complex. Now power can flow in the opposite direction, from a home or business to the grid, often via rooftop solar panels. Customers can also interact with the electricity system through demand response programs, agreeing to lower energy use at peak times in exchange for some kind of a break on the utility bill.

Another transformation since “simpler times” is in the way electricity gets bought and sold. In the 1990s, many states moved away from the traditional model, where utilities owned both the power plants and the delivery systems. Now, about two-thirds of U.S. customers are served by deregulated markets, where power generators compete at the wholesale level and consumers can choose their retail electricity provider. (The nonprofit Resources for the Future has an excellent electricity markets explainer here.)

And finally, of course, there’s that other big change we’ve been contending with, more urgently than ever: The one that starts with “climate.” In FERC world, it’s not a given that greenhouse gas emissions or environmental impact will factor into any decision—even though the agency is charged with determining whether fossil gas projects are “in the public interest.” That seems kinda relevant to the planet being on fire—no?

Policies for a Clean Electric Grid

Glick and his fellow Democrat on the current commission, Allison Clements, have argued that FERC not only should, but is legally bound to, consider climate change impacts as part of its decision-making process. Until recently, however, the commission has sidestepped that responsibility, greenlighting dozens of pipelines as if climate change didn’t exist. It’s almost like being back in the ’70s, when U.S. public concerns about oil were more centered on how we could get more of it rather than what we were doing to the planet by burning it.

Each commissioner has a five-year term, and Republican Commissioner Neil Chatterjee’s tenure expires at the end of this month, though he has suggested that without the confirmation of an expected Democrat successor, he might not exit on time. Regardless of personnel changes in the short term, critics argue that FERC needs to get with the modern age. There have been some encouraging developments: The agency recently did include greenhouse gas emissions, for a change, in its assessment of a proposed pipeline project. It also created and filled a new position, senior counsel for environmental justice, aimed at ensuring its decisions do not unfairly affect historically marginalized communities.

On its blog, the Natural Resources Defense Council outlines other steps FERC can take to accelerate, rather than stall, the clean energy transition. Among them, the agency could update policies that prevent renewable generation resources from participating in capacity markets, where generators are paid to be available in case they are needed. It could also reform transmission planning—decisions about what types of lines are needed, and where, to carry electricity from where it is generated closer to where it is used—to improve delivery of renewable energy.

The part where you come in

There’s another noteworthy update at FERC, and this one directly involves you. The agency is finally establishing an Office of Public Participation, which will provide an avenue for communities to weigh in on what’s happening. If you really want to dive into the issues, the Sustainable FERC Project is a good place to start.


Is my utility’s “green power program” bona fide or bogus?

June 9, 2021

This article is from the June 9, 2021, issue of Flip the Script, a weekly newsletter moving you from climate stress to clean energy action. Sign up here to get it in your inbox (and share the link with a friend).

Let’s be super clear: this is not a thrilling topic. It will make for poor backyard BBQ conversation (we’re all a bit rusty, so let’s start with some safer topics like sports or sourdough recipes). AND YET: Most of us, in our desire to support clean energy where we can, have looked at our monthly electricity bill and wondered: is my utility’s “green power program” a total greenwashing scam, or does it actually do some good in the world?

Despite the helpful explainer articles that already exist in the universe (like this one and this one), confusion and mystery around the topic still abound. That’s because energy is basically the largest and most complex system humankind has ever created. So it’s not your fault.

To tackle this complex system, we’re going to try putting a storytelling spin on things. Our story begins with….

Chapter 1: Before the energy transition

A looooong time ago, back in the 20th century, America’s electrical grid was humming along nicely, doing its incredible, invisible thing. A variety of electricity “sources”—coal plants, natural gas plants, nuclear plants, hydroelectric dams, and more—were all dumping electrons onto the grid. Everyone had enough electricity, and no one thought much about where their electricity “came from.”

Chapter 2: The transition begins

As America’s population grew and needed more electricity (and as some old electricity sources—a.k.a. coal power plants—were retired), a few wind and solar farms were built and started contributing electrons to the grid. The electricity industry’s transition had begun! America was beginning to replace some of its fossil fuel electricity sources with renewable energy sources. 

Certain people, governments, and businesses started saying “I want my electricity to come from these renewable energy sources, because they clearly have additional benefits to society and our planet!” Since not everyone could build a solar or wind farm in their backyard (although some did), and since all electrons flowing through the grid are indistinguishable from each other, some sort of accounting system was needed. People wanted to certify that if they just used, say, 100 electrons, somewhere, at some point in time, 100 electrons were added to the grid by a renewable energy source. This accounting system was called “Renewable Energy Credits” (RECs). Every time a renewable energy source put one unit of electricity onto the grid, one REC was created, representing the “green benefits” of that unit of electricity. Voilà. (It was tough to agree on a definition of “renewable energy,” so hydropower, burning wood pellets, solar, and wind all got the privilege of producing RECs.)

Chapter 3: The transition picks up steam

As America got into the 21st century, lots of wind and solar farms started popping up. Some got built because specific people, cities, or businesses contracted to get them built, some were built by utilities because new laws required them to do so, and some were built by utilities voluntarily simply because renewable energy had become the cheaper and smarter way to generate new electrons. In addition to lots of electrons, all this wind and solar was putting a ton of RECs out into the universe—far more “green benefit” credits than were being demanded by people. They started piling up into a massive pool of excess supply, and thus became dirt cheap to buy.

Chapter 4: The present

And that brings us to today: when you say, “I want my electricity to come from renewable energy sources!” and opt-in to your utility’s green power program, the utility simply goes to that massive pool of RECs and buys a handful. (These RECs certify that somewhere, at some point in time, an equal amount of electricity was generated by a renewable energy source). It only costs you a few extra dollars a month because, again, these credits are dirt cheap. And since they’re so cheap, they don’t provide much additional income (or incentive) to businesses that build renewable energy.

And therein lies the main problem: All these cheap credits we’re buying don’t move the needle on the electricity industry’s transition from fossil fuel sources to renewable energy sources. This pocket change alone doesn’t convince any utility or entity to, for example, ditch a natural gas plant and go build a wind farm instead. They’ll build it if the big numbers make sense, irregardless of the pocket change from RECs. As usual, journalist David Roberts sums it up well: “It’s like tossing your supermarket change into a Unicef jar. Whatever, it’s better than not doing so, but you’re not ‘curing poverty.’”

The closer you can get to handing your money directly to a renewable energy builder/project, the more impactful you are being.

We’re simplifying a bit here for clarity—of course there’s a whole world of awful acronyms and terminology we’re sparing you (e.g. sRECs, RPS, Green-e certification, bundled vs. unbundled, regulated vs. unregulated utility markets…)

Got any better options?

Here’s an attempt to create a helpful rule of thumb: the closer you can get to handing your money directly to a renewable energy builder/project, the more impactful you are being. Here are two routes you can explore:

  • Participate in Community solar. I’m going to quote David Roberts again here for this concept, “wherein a group of customers go in together on a small solar PV installation. It’s a great way for people who can’t put solar on their own roof (or who rent) to get into the solar game…they [the participants] own a chunk of it and get a small credit on their utility bill each month for their portion of the electricity sold…Community solar is perhaps the most tangible and small-d democratic way to directly support clean energy.” The Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Arcadia Power are two resources to help you investigate community solar options (or the advocacy fight to win the option) near you.
  • Give money to a church, school, or nonprofit that is going solar: Virginia Mercury writes, “If you don’t have a sunny roof, but you’d still like to see your money put solar onto the grid, consider contributing to a church, school or non-profit that is going solar, or to an organization that puts solar on low-income homes…If everyone in Virginia who is currently buying RECs were to choose this alternative instead, it would put millions of dollars to work building new solar in Virginia, and lowering the energy bills of people who most need the help.

What was the key takeaway from this long-winded article, class? That’s right: the closer you can get to handing your money directly to a renewable energy builder/project, the more impactful you are being. Participating in a “green power program” is better than nothing, unless it makes you think you’ve saved the planet and can call it a day. The day, in fact, is far from over—and we’ve got work to do.


Solar + Schools + Students = New Clean Energy Jobs

June 2, 2021

This article is from the June 2, 2021, issue of Flip the Script, a weekly newsletter moving you from climate stress to clean energy action. Sign up here to get it in your inbox (and share the link with a friend).

President Biden recently set a new goal of reaching 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035. To get there, we’ll need to quadruple the current solar workforce and add 900,000 more trained workers. This ambitious goal is also an incredible opportunity and potential boost for our economy. How will we fill the gap—and do it quickly?

Training young people for jobs as solar PV installers—one of the fastest growing occupations—is one way. 

In New York City, the school district has developed an innovative solar education program that gets students excited about clean energy early on through K-12 classroom lessons and then offers a pathway to get solar job training, certification, and first-hand experience while in high school. The NYC Solar Schools Education Program, a partnership between the NYC Department of Education and Solar One (a local nonprofit energy and sustainability education organization), offers hands-on, solar installation training to students at 13 high schools. The program comes full circle by organizing student internships with solar companies, giving students an opportunity to put their solar skills to work to power more NYC schools with solar. 

A diagram of NYC’s Solar Education Program in action

Interview with a future clean energy professional

Thanks to the NYC Solar Schools Education Program, college student Stephanie Sosa got a jumpstart into her clean energy career while she was still in high school. She participated in Solar One’s virtual summer course as a high-school senior during the pandemic in June of 2020 and earned her NABCEP Solar PV Associate credential. With that training and experience as a foundation, she has decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at the NYC College of Technology to prepare for a career in clean energy. 

Here is our interview with her, edited for length and clarity. Enjoy!

Stephanie Sosa


Generation180: What sparked your interest in solar and clean energy? 

Stephanie Sosa: Ever since I was a little kid, my parents taught me to consider the earth a gift, because this is our home. I try my best to take care of it. In high school science class, we talked about ways we harm the earth, and the ways we can fulfill our human needs and wants. Solar and clean energy are the best way to fulfill our present needs without harming the earth and the ability of future generations to meet their needs. So, when I heard about Solar One’s virtual solar training for students, I applied right away. 

Generation180: What were some of your highlights of the solar program?

Stephanie Sosa: I was very impressed by how knowledgeable the instructor was. All of the modules were rich in useful information (like PV system sizing), pacing was excellent, and he would go out of his way to research an answer to a question if he didn’t immediately know the answer. I enjoyed learning terms that were new to me, or that I was using wrong. For example, it’s actually solar cells that make up solar modules, which make up solar panels that comprise solar arrays!

Even with the course being in a fully-virtual environment, there were many ways to engage in discussion with other students, ask questions that lead into tangential conversation, and collaborate to enrich our learning. 

Generation180: Did the high school solar program have an impact on your future career plans?

Stephanie Sosa: In high school, I discovered many things about myself. A passion for clean energy was one of them.

Specifically, during my junior year, we had someone from Solar One visit my class. He introduced me to solar and engaged my whole class through interactive, hands-on learning activities with solar cell modules that were really fun. From then on, I continued learning about the electrical trade, but I didn’t know how I would work within it. His lessons and role made me aware that solar was a growing field I could become a part of.

Immediately after completing the virtual course, we were given a book that we could study for the PV associate exam. I jumped at this opportunity to continue my learning and solar expertise. I studied, took the exam, and passed! So now I have my NABCEP PV Associate credential.

In high school, I discovered many things about myself. A passion for clean energy was one of them.

Generation180: Do you intend to join the clean energy field now that you have completed the solar training program?

Stephanie Sosa: I’m not currently in the solar industry, but it’s where I’d like to end up. I’m finishing my first year of college at the NYC College of Technology in Brooklyn, pursuing a degree in electrical engineering technology. By furthering my studies, I hope to use this knowledge to excel in the solar industry in the future.  

Generation180: Do you have any advice for your generation and/or those interested in getting involved in clean energy?

Stephanie Sosa: Take advantage of every opportunity that you can to learn and immerse yourself in the field, whatever that might be. At first, I had never considered clean energy as a career pathway for myself. Luckily, I was introduced to the multitude of options to work in the world of clean energy and solar, thanks to the Solar One program.


Interested in learning more about the NYC DOE Office of Sustainability and Solar One’s work? Check out our case study on the program, and if you know a student in the NYC area, share this blog with them and encourage them to get involved!