Solarize Hudson Valley Interns Spread Sustainable Energy in a New Initiative
SCA members are increasing sustainability across New York’s Hudson Valley region — one solar installation at a time.
This summer, six SCA members became the face of a new nonprofit initiative to help homeowners and small businesses go solar. Working with Solarize Hudson Valley — a program of Sustainable Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountainkeeper and part of the Renewable New York movement to expand clean energy statewide — SCA members hit the field to bring affordable solar models to local communities.
Working from hub cities including Kingston, Woodstock, and Rosendale, members led community workshops, hosted tabling events, and visited local residents and business owners to share info on solar. The goal? Start a solar movement in each hub city that will allow community members to share resources and bring down costs for everyone.
“We have a lot going on,” says SCA member Jessica Edington, who moved from Virginia to the Hudson Valley to spend the summer working for the Solarize initiative. “We try to get the word out any way we can — whether that’s through hosting events, doing online outreach, or even visiting local residents and business owners door-to-door.”
“Sometimes people think at first that we’re trying to sell them something, or that we’re part of some political campaign,” says SCA member Joey Karp. “But when they find out that we work for a nonprofit and we’re giving them information and resources for free, their whole attitude changes. Sometimes I knock on someone’s door and twenty minutes later we’re still standing there talking. People get so excited about the idea that this is something they can really do.”
Among the most popular programs are Solar Open Houses. “We reach out to community members who have already gone solar, and work with them to host open houses so people can come see what it’s really like,” says SCA member Arielle Green. “People read the power meter to see how much energy is being generated, and how much is being saved in real time — they think that is really cool. They check out the inverters and how those are installed. And in homes that have roof access, we take them up to see the actual solar panels in action.”
“Before this SCA internship, I didn’t realize how many different factors there are in making the decision to go solar,” says member Renee Dufek. “People have a lot of different reasons for making the switch — but it costs less than most people expect, and there are so many incentives out there to help. We try to break it down and make it manageable.”
Although the campaign is only a few months in, already local residents — and businesses — are getting on board and making the commitment to go solar. “We couldn’t do it without our fantastic SCA team,” says Program Manager John Wackman. “They are our hands in the field and our feet on the ground — and they’ve gotten amazing results, connecting over 800 community residents with solar resources this summer.”
And although the Solarize Hudson Valley campaign will eventually conclude, the SCA members’ sustainable journey will continue. Joey will be headed to Binghamton University in the fall to complete a degree in mechanical and sustainable engineering; Arielle will be studying environmental engineering; Jessica has already accepted a new position with the DC consulting firm Green Strategies, Inc. Members Laura Grose and Megan Poole, who worked in the hubs of Beacon and Goshen, are also continuing studies in related fields. “I was always interested in the environment, but this position made me look at sustainability in a new way,” says Renee. “If you can give people information, sometimes that’s the first step.”
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