Solar Energy Organization Shines in Entrepreneurial Competition

As the top ‘Re-Visionary,’ Solstice Initiative wins the $5,000 grand prize.
Steph Speirs and Stephen Moilanen. (Photo: Courtesy Solstice Initiative)
Presented byPresented by Kia
Mar 31, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Tasbeeh Herwees is a journalist and writer from Los Angeles. She has written for Good Magazine, The Majalla, TruthDig, L.A. Currents, and others.

This past month, as part of TakePart’s “Re-Visionaries” campaign, 10 entrepreneurs from around the country were given the opportunity to compete for a $5,000 grand prize. Today, Solstice Initiative, an organization that provides communities with access to solar energy affordably and efficiently, will be taking home that prize. The company’s founders, Steph Speirs and Stephen Moilanen, will be using the money to advance Solstice Initiative’s solar projects, which allow people to buy a share of a community solar farm, preempting the need for roof installation.

“The prize is a great reminder that solving the solar access problem in America is so much bigger than ourselves,” Speirs told TakePart. “It’s a reminder that none of us can tackle big, thorny problems alone, and our organization is only as effective as the supporters and talent it can rally to work together.”

Solstice Initiative, which is working in Massachusetts, gives people who would otherwise be unable to afford solar roof panels on their home an opportunity to join their neighborhood shared solar farm. Those who do can reduce their electricity bill with solar energy for a much lower investment. Moilanen says the TakePart “Re-Visionaries” prize will allow Solstice Initiative to acquire the human resources it needs to recruit people on the ground.

“[This prize] means having the resources to go into local communities, launch more shared solar projects on the ground, switch more households to community solar, and enable them to get affordable clean energy for the first times in their lives,” says Speirs. “When people who were previously shut out of solar can get it for the first time, it also means creating more equity in our clean energy economy.”

Speirs and Moilanen hope that in the coming years they will be able to expand the program beyond Massachusetts—to neighboring states and then to the rest of the country.

“I really imagine a day in the not-too-distant future where solar power is at the fingertips of everybody in this country,” says Moilanen. “And I think that community solar is a hugely important vehicle—in fact, probably the only vehicle—available to accomplish that goal.”