Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Nonprofit helps a Detroit neighborhood learn about solar » Yale Climate Connections

On an early fall day in the North End neighborhood of Detroit, residents hopped on bikes for a guided tour of solar installations. Kids built solar-powered robots, played in a solar-powered bounce house, and ate s’mores roasted in a solar oven.

“So people got to see solar in an operation that they never would’ve imagined,” says the Rev. Joan Ross, founder of the North End Woodward Community Coalition, a nonprofit in the largely low-income, African American neighborhood. “When you can see it, when you can know it’s there, then they have a better sense of, ‘Yes, this could work for me as well.’”

She says many families in her community struggle to pay electricity bills that are very high. Going solar can reduce those monthly bills.

So her group informs people about solar energy, helps them assess financing options, and connects them with quality contractors. It also arranges bulk-buying discounts to reduce the upfront cost of installing solar panels.

Ross is determined to make sure that more people can access clean, affordable energy.

“To actually see these things coming to life in my community, and the ways that people can embrace solar, it’s really an exciting time for me,” she says.

Read: Three common myths about solar energy, demystified

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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