Our mission is to create a just and inclusive transition to renewable energy by enabling everyone to own and shape our energy future.
Growing The Movement. People Power Solar Cooperative is building a movement toward grassroots-led and community-owned solar, a critical piece of a just transition to a sustainable economy. We believe that a just transition requires:
- Democracy and self-determination: Communities must democratically shape the energy sector and have long-term access to and control over energy, so that we can build wealth, health, and jobs for ourselves and future generations.
- Centering frontline communities: We must build power among – and center the needs of – low-income communities, communities of color, and frontline communities that have been disproportionately harmed by our fossil fuel economy.
While climate justice groups everywhere are advocating for energy democracy, very few community-owned solar projects exist in California or most of the United States. Our research and work with communities has revealed the substantial technical, financial, and legal barriers to community-owned solar. Now we’re building the skills, leadership, and people power necessary to overcome these barriers in our communities and start getting everyday people involved in solar development. Two key innovations allow us to work:
- Our cooperative structure makes it easier to navigate securities requirements that make other community solar projects so difficult to organize.
- We don’t rely on shared-solar policy. By focusing on the flow of money and not the flow of electrons, we create a platform for community investment and ownership that is agnostic of state community solar policy.
People Power is centered on the creation and success of its “Project Groups”. These Project Groups are initiated by individuals and organizations, and include, for example, groups of people who jointly steward a solar project or a group of people spearheading a policy advocacy campaign. Many Project Groups function much like self-governing “cooperatives” under the umbrella of the broader Cooperative, much as fiscally-sponsored projects do in the nonprofit sector.
People Power exists to serve its “Owners”, so Owners have core control over People Power through their election of the majority of the Board and voting on major decisions. Apart from those core powers, Owners express their power and influence through countless small interactions with People Power, shaping People Power and our communities through participation in Project Groups and other initiatives. There are four kinds of Owners within People Power:
- General Owners, who provide capital and other support for projects.
- Anchor Owners, community members who provide leadership and spearhead the development of projects.
- Subscriber Owners, who get electrical power and other benefits or services from the cooperative.
- Worker Owners, who provide the technical, operational, and organizing support to all other Owners
The enormity of our task at hand – transitioning away from a fossil fuel economy, combatting wealth inequality, and building power for people of color, low-income communities, and frontline communities – requires that communities doing the groundwork of leading a just transition (i.e., Anchor Owners and Project Groups) also lead in making decisions about our collective assets and resources.
We prioritize decentralized governance because it builds people power, creates resiliency, and fosters a strong sense of ownership, activating people to build and steward our energy resources in the long-term. To offer a visual explanation of what decentralization under People Power looks like: If People Power were a galaxy, many Project Groups and other activities within People Power would be solar systems within that galaxy, and the owners involved in that project would be planets orbiting these solar systems.