GRID in the News

A self-proclaimed nerd, avid reader, and documentary enthusiast growing up, Cureton found inspiration in the pages of inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla’s autobiography. Despite being born worlds away from Tesla—Black and in the home of Black Wall Street—he related to Tesla’s innovative ideas and that he did not fit in with the norm. “A lot of my interests weren’t really mainstream,” Cureton says.

Still, pursuing a career in energy was not on his radar, even with his interest in Tesla. As a teen, Cureton and his friends knew vaguely of solar panels and that they were installed in homes located in more affluent neighborhoods. But, he says, “we were not talking about creating energy businesses or lobbying for particular policies that improve the conditions of our community.”

A 2019 energy use study found that the city of Thornton and the community as a whole spent $89 million on energy bills in 2018. Representatives from Thornton, Adams 12 Five Star School District, United Power, and GRID Alternatives worked in collaboration to define the energy vision, goals and strategies that are customized for Thornton’s community values.

By following a plan, Thornton aims to save more than two-million kWh of electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 27,000 conventional vehicles off the road by 2022

What’s clear is that the climate crisis and racism are parts of a larger picture that has prevented us from evolving in the ways we think about energy. We’ve needed to take collective action to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for a long time, and, without it, there have been catastrophic human consequences, especially for communities of color around the world.

Uneven playing field

“Employers do background checks — and no one is hiring an ex-felon. That alone is enough to discourage someone from applying to jobs,” said Wells, who had to start his solar career at temp agencies or “mom and pop” installers because “nine times out of ten they don’t screen — but nine times out of ten they don’t pay either — or you don’t have benefits.”

Wells had to go through temp agencies — “getting hired through the temp agency and working at the same company that denied you — while getting paid $14 per hour instead of $20 per hour.”

U.S. clean-energy organizations joined nationwide expressions of grief and anger this week following the recent killings of black Americans including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) lamented continuing racial inequities in the U.S., suggesting they would redouble efforts on diversifying the renewables workforce and consider how their industries can stand against racial injustice.

Black Hills Energy has announced the partners it has selected to supply an additional 2.5 megawatts of new community solar garden capacity in Southern Colorado.

The new projects include a 2 megawatt facility and a separate 500-kilowatt garden dedicated entirely to serving low-income customers, according to Black Hills.

On Feb. 14, a lawsuit was filed against the city challenging the language of the ballot question that council approved Feb. 10, saying it does not conform to state law.

The city has responded to the suit, saying that in order to keep the May 5 election date on track it is willing to use certain ballot language proposed by the plaintiffs — although the city doesn’t agree with the plaintiffs that the original ballot language isn’t in compliance with state law. The City Council would have to approve the amendments that are made.

“Clean energy should be for everyone, and with a few strategic shifts, it can be,” said report co-author MeLena Hessel, a senior policy advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Too often, low-income communities receive the brunt of pollution and the effects of climate change, but are left out of the solutions. This report lays out realistic, common-sense guidelines for utilities to share those solutions — and the clean energy future — with all.”

Bridge House, which was selected as one of the five state nonprofits out of more than 150 applications for $175,000 apiece in funding from the tech giant, this month received the most votes in an online contest to earn another $125,000.

There were more than 7,000 votes cast in the contest.

The $300,000 in new funding for Bridge House will be used to expand its Ready to Work program, which attempts to end homelessness through connecting clients with employment training and opportunities.

Boulder’s Family Learning Center, which is working to mentor and tutor 40 low-income parents in early childhood development, child educational advocacy and early childhood professional development, and Bridge House, the local homelessness services provider behind the Ready to Work program that strives to end homelessness through employment, are competing against three Denver groups for the extra funding.

Mile High United Way, which is working to support the growth of women-owned and minority-owned businesses; GRID Alternatives Colorado, which provides paid training on residential solar installation to income-eligible participants; and Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute, which invests in entrepreneurship that is “creating economic and social mobility,” are the other three nonprofits in the contest.