School and student leaders inspire action during National Solar Tour 2020

October 9, 2020

Generation180 partnered with Solar United Neighbors and American Solar Energy Society for the 25th anniversary of the National Solar Tour—the largest grassroots renewable energy event in the nation. Thousands of people joined us between September 28-October 4, 2020 for engaging live online events and to explore the nearly 500 virtual solar open houses and tours across the country.

The National Solar Tour celebrates the vital role schools play in creating a brighter future for everyone. On October 1, 2020, Generation180 organized Solar For All Schools Day of the tour and hosted three online panel discussions with school district, community, and student leaders who led the charge for solar at their school districts. Watch the recordings below!

A Brighter Future For Schools Through Solar 

K-12 schools play an integral role in reaching students, parents, neighbors, and local decision-makers to encourage clean energy action throughout the community. Dive into Generation180’s 2020 Brighter Future Report as we share our latest research on why and how schools are going solar across the country. Learn how a district reinvested solar savings into teacher salaries and how another is using solar + storage to boost resilience.

Tish Tablan, Generation180, Program Director
Laura Capps, Santa Barbara Unified School District, President of Board of Education
Dr. Michael Hester, Batesville School District, Superintendent

Electrify Your Ride to School 

The dirty yellow school bus is going green. Electric school buses are popping up from coast to coast, and your school could be next. Hear from trailblazers that are switching to electric school bus fleets and learn about how you can advocate for cleaner rides to school in your community.

Eleanor Fort, Dream Corps, Deputy Director of Green For All
Gilbert Rosas, Stockton Unified School District, Energy Education Specialist
Brian Foulds, City of Concord, Chair of Climate Action Advisory Board

Students Lead the Charge for Solar 

Get inspired by the next generation of solar leaders who are driving change in their school communities and calling for 100% clean energy and carbon neutrality. Not yet able to vote, coordinating action, and fighting for change is how they voice their opinions and advocate for both their planet and their lives.

Lisa Hoyos, Sierra Club, Director of Climate Parents
Student leaders from Jason Lee Middle School, Tacoma Public Schools
Student leaders of SolaRISE Portland in Maine

Learn more about the tour at


Video: What Story Will You Tell?

July 13, 2020

Back in January, we kicked off the new year with a campaign called What Story Will You Tell that asked people to share how they planned to take action on clean energy in 2020. The big idea: you have a role to play in the clean energy revolution; one year from now, what story will you tell?

Fast forward to today: we’re halfway through the year (where did….wha?) and it’s time to check back in with those resolutions—or make a “back nine” resolution for the rest of 2020 (never too late to start).

On the campaign page we shared a bunch of ideas and resources to help get the wheels turning, including going solar, driving electric, getting your school to go solar, advocating for clean energy policies, and even exercising civil disobedience. (Many of us may have checked off that last box already this year, for other worthy causes).

A screenshot from the "What Story Will You Tell" campaign webpage
Ideas and resources from the “What Story Will You Tell” campaign webpage

Even at the halfway mark, 2020 has already staked its claim as a year unlike any other in recent memory. Between a ruthless pandemic and an overdue reckoning with America’s original sin, we’ve all witnessed heartbreaking tragedy, pain, loss, violence, and unrest. 

The brutal reality about yet another pressing issue—the climate crisis, however, is that it doesn’t pause or stop while we’re occupied with other important matters. It is, in fact, deeply intertwined with economic, racial, health, immigration, and a host of other major issues.  Because of this we must continue accelerating our transition to clean, renewable energy as quickly as possible. 

Here’s the good news: we can do this. We can get to a clean energy future—and quickly. We’ve got the solutions and the momentum, and you can play a role

So what story will you tell this year? How will you finish your 2020?


Wind surpasses hydro

March 24, 2018

Wind surpassed hydropower energy as the biggest source of renewable electricity here in the U.S. thanks to a tripling of wind capacity since 2008.

You may be wondering where are all these wind turbines going up? Well, the top 3 states are Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. So how much power are we actually talking about here? Well, wind now has the capacity to power over 24 million American homes.

And with wind and solar adding capacity faster than fossil fuels the power industry is undergoing a major and profound transformation.


Ten reasons why “Keep It Cool” is smart for retailers

August 30, 2017

Turn on the local news on any summer day, and there’s a decent chance you might hear a familiar story: a regional power company is struggling to meet electricity demand. The power grid strains as we draw megawatts of energy into our homes and businesses to keep them cool during a sweltering hot summer day. Around the country, massive coal-fired power plants are running at full capacity, spewing tons of pollution into the air.

Summer is here. It is hot, hazy, and humid. Walking past a retail store, you can feel the cool air from an open door, an invisible welcome mat of air-conditioning inviting you to come inside and shop. Something is wrong with this picture.

It is time for retailers to close their doors. Among businesses, retailers have one of the biggest opportunities to save vast quantities of energy and reduce pollution. New York City realized this, and, over a year ago, outlawed such behavior. But the sight is still too-common around the country. Faced with the rising concerns around energy costs, energy security, and air pollution, we can no longer afford to spill air conditioning outside, through doors wide open for business.

Here are ten reasons why retailers should keep their front doors closed during the hot summer months:

1. There’s no available data showing that an open door increases sales or traffic.

While this has been a long-held belief among some retailers, it’s largely based on anecdotal evidence and an outdated assumption of what consumers find acceptable in today’s social environment. Our recent survey data (see #6 below) suggests that a majority of consumers view this habit as “wasteful”.

2. Doors left open waste a significant amount of electricity.

How much electricity? ConEdison (a New York utility) estimates that one store (10,000 sq ft) that leaves 1 door open for 8 hours a day (5 days/wk), wastes 4,200 kWh of electricity from June –September.

Thermal image (cropped).jpg
A store with its front door left open in the summer, as seen by a thermal camera.

3. It drives up your operating costs.

ConEdison estimates that each store pays about $250 more per month for electricity when doors are open with the air conditioning running.

4. That electricity that’s being wasted? It was generated in a process that releases pollution.

How much pollution? The same ConEdison calculations estimates that, on average, such a store accounts for around 2.2 tons of carbon dioxide (over a 4 month period). That’s the same amount of CO2 produced by a semi-truck driving from New York to Miami (using around 200 gallons of diesel gasoline).

5. It’s bad for the grid.

O the hottest days, this waste needlessly contributes to already-peak levels of electricity demand, further destabilizing power grids. Wasting energy (by leaving a door open) is most harmful on the hottest summer days.

Popular Mechanics explains: “Much of the electricity consumption in the U.S. is concentrated to a handful of hours during the year, primarily during hot summer days. This so-called peak demand puts considerable stress on the grid, increasing the risk of blackouts and brownouts. It also significantly raises the year-round price of power for consumers.

6. Consumers care about doors being closed.

According to a national survey of 1,500 millennial consumers, 62 percent think that this practice is wasteful, and up to 25 perent are less likely to shop at retailers that leave their doors open with the air conditioning on.

7. It’s a chance for retailers to communicate their brand’s commitment to energy conservation.

Whether consciously or not, consumers gravitate towards brands that align with their personal values. As more and more consumers become concerned about matters regarding energy and climate change, energy-awareness is a value that brands can’t afford to ignore. Stores can communicate their energy-aware values by closing their doors and using an explanatory sign to start a dialogue with customers.

8. Closing the door is a business policy that costs nothing to implement.

Closing a store door costs nothing. In fact, in all the reasons we’ve said above, the savings from keep doors closed while running the A/C can save thousands.

9. It perpetuates an energy-ignorance the planet can’t afford.

Significant action needs to be taken across all industries and sectors in order to improve our climate for a sustainable and healthy future.

10. It’s 2017. We know better.

Check out Keep It Cool—a campaign to stop this waste and partner with energy-aware retailers.


The power industry is changing

April 28, 2017

In the power sector, utilities are shifting to clean energy because the economic case is so compelling, and the trends are clear:

Over the last five years in the US, the fossil fuel industry has retired more electricity generating capacity than they’ve added—which means they’re closing more power plants than they’re opening. This has resulted in a removal of about 20 gigawatts worth of electricity from fossil fuel sources (that’s about 2% of our total

capacity here in the U.S.), while wind and solar energy have added a combined 47 gigawatts over the same time period (that’s about 5% of our total installed capacity).

This trend holds true over the past decade as well. Since 2006, clean energy has dominated net capacity additions to the national electric grid, with an 81% share of additions versus only 19% from fossil fuels.

The growth of wind and solar has not been linear—it’s been exponential. Both of these technologies have undergone massive levels of innovation that continue to drive costs down at dramatic rates. The power industry is changing in big ways as we become less and less dependent on fossil fuels and embrace the advantages of solar energy and wind power.


U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Annual 2006-2015

Bloomberg New Energy Finance, U.S. Wind and Solar Generation Capacity


Why drive an electric car

April 20, 2017

These days, there’s good reason to think seriously about buying an electric car.

First off, picture this: no more gas stations, transmission repairs, oil changes, or timing belt failures. There are far fewer things to break down, which means lower maintenance costs and fewer trips to the mechanic.

As far as everyday “fueling” costs go? Here in the U.S., it costs about half as much to drive an electric car. That’s because electricity is less expensive than gasoline and electric cars (or EVs) are far more efficient vehicles. It’s roughly equivalent to fueling a conventional car with gas at $1/gallon.

What about the overall environmental impact of these zero-emission vehicles? Over the course of its lifetime (from cradle-to-grave), an EV today causes 54% less carbon pollution than a comparable gas vehicle. And that number’s only going to get better as our grid continues to source more of its power from clean energy like wind and solar.

So that’s just a few reasons why electric vehicles are generating so much interest, and are changing transportation as we know it.


Solar industry growth

March 15, 2017

Today we’re going over some exciting numbers from the solar industry. How fast exactly is the industry growing?

Well this is the fourth consecutive year that solar industry jobs grew by 20% or more. In comparison, last year, jobs in the U.S. economy grew by only 1.5%. So the U.S. solar industry is booming and it now employs more workers than natural gas and more than double the number of workers in the coal industry.

These are domestic jobs creating domestic energy and there’s plenty more growth to come.