Mary Marshall & Marla Korpar
Organization: Solar Energy International
City/Country: Paonia, Colorado United States
This photo tells the story of the ongoing effort to diversify the economy in a region negatively impacted by the layoffs of the coal industry through solar energy. Marla, 25, and Mary, 22, pictured above are two AmeriCorps VISTAs continuing Solar Energy International's Solarize campaigns. SEI is a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit located in Paonia in Delta County, Colorado. Solarize North Fork Valley began in 2015 as a group-buy community-centered program aimed to educate the community on renewable energy and kickstart a solar market in the region. This initial campaign eventually stemmed into Solarize Delta County, a campaign nearly double the size of the first round. Through the campaigns, there have been 42 new solar PV system installations in the region, totaling 272 kW of solar. Overall, community members invested nearly one million dollars in solar energy, demonstrating a commitment to a solar market. There have been 55 educational and outreach events that over 1,200 people in our county have attended, further exemplifying an interest in fostering a community committed to solar. These efforts not only helped to diversify the tax base in the county, but these efforts ultimately supported a message of renewable energy, energy efficiency and being conscious of the individual ways we can combat climate change every day. Mary and Marla are about to embark on a third round of Solarize aimed at commercial businesses. The fight against climate change is EVERYONE's fight. These actions from within a community demonstrate how much we can accomplish if we come together and commit to clean energy.