Energy Allies formerly known as Solstice Initiative, is a nonprofit led by women of color. In 2014, we were founded by Steph Speirs and Sandhya Murali on the belief that every household should be able to access affordable clean energy. Since our founding, our board seats a majority of women of color, qualifying Solstice Initiative as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE). In 2022 and beyond, our Executive Director, Yesenia Rivera, leads us in centering climate-impacted communities through clean energy projects, policy, and education.
Our goal is to co-design democratized clean energy systems that build wealth in climate-impacted communities via a decentralized energy grid. One strategy we deploy is our collective group of paid community members and organization representatives, or Community Advisory Board (CAB), who identify priorities and vote on local energy solutions. CAB members are paid for their leadership in Solstice Initiative project design, development, and implementation. We convened our first CAB in Boston, MA, to make sure that our community-led solar projects are led by and for community members. Our strategic partnerships have led our Boston CAB to form into the Boston Community Solar Cooperative today. In Buffalo, NY, Solstice Initiative is partnering with the non-profit PUSH Buffalo to form a CAB and co-design an energy project that builds intergenerational wealth for climate-impacted communities. We are facilitating partnerships with community members, local organizations, and property owners to build coalitions that enhance access to clean energy. Together, we site clean energy projects and co-design programs for community members to democratize the energy system.
Since our founding, Solstice Initiative has enhanced research and innovation in low to moderate income community solar access with EnergyScore, developed in partnership with The Department of Energy and data scientists at MIT and Stanford and published in the National Bureau of Economic Review. In our research, we found that the EnergyScore is more accurate than traditional credit scores at predicting defaults and more inclusive of low-to-moderate income households. In Solstice Initiative’s Research with the Department of Energy (DoE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), our findings demonstrate the importance of policy to push developers to include all income levels equitably and co-design programs with communities. That’s why Solstice Initiative works to break patterns established by government and utility neglect dating to historic redlining by co-designing a just transition that serves all communities