EDF Chicago/Clean Jobs Coalition
At a Glance
Clean and Renewable Energy, Climate Justice/Energy Equity, Engagement and Behavior Change
Tyler Fitch worked with EDF’s Midwest team and the Clean Jobs Coalition to provide information and connection opportunities, that will empower community groups to create effective community solar partnerships.
Representing Illinois’s environmental and faith communities, the Clean Jobs Coalition has over 200 organizations working together to promote clean energy across the state. In 2016 the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act unlocked community solar by giving access to clean, inexpensive and reliable energy to everyone including households and businesses who don’t have their own panels. While the policy opened the door, the state still faces the challenge of fostering meaningful relationships between passionate community groups and solar industry experts. As an EDF Climate Corps fellow, Tyler Fitch worked with both EDF’s Midwest Clean Energy team and the Clean Jobs Coalition to equip community groups with the knowledge they needed to create those partnerships.
Fitch’s challenge was to guide community groups and solar developers through what can sometimes be unfamiliar territory for both. He began by creating a database of literature written by advocates, national labs and practitioners on community solar best practices and then culled the information down into one-pagers, guides, and checklists for community groups. These assets include topics ranging from assessing the solar potential of a rooftop using Google Maps, to understanding how Illinois’s Solar for All program might lead to more equity and affordable energy.
In order to reach a broad and more diverse audience, Fitch also created a combination of blog posts, one-on-one conversations, videos and radio interviews that would reach over 120 community organizations, service providers, and solar installers across the state.
Under Tyler’s leadership, projects on the pre-launch queue for Solar in the Community expanded by a multiple of 5, and many other proposals from both community groups and seasoned solar experts are in the works. If built, the Solar in the Community projects would bring 10 megawatts of solar online, generating almost 300 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and averting over 100,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas over their lifetimes. The movement toward implementation of these projects a sign that EDF’s strategy for bringing people together is working. Solar in the Community’s success could provide the state with a leadership opportunity to promote community solar everywhere.