Community, Energy Education, & NH’s Solar Future: 6 Questions for Jude Nuru
Employee-Owners | May 5, 2021 | Posted by Jill McLaughlin
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We’re featuring ReVision Employee-Owner Jude Nuru, who joined ReVision Energy’s New Hampshire team at the end of 2020 as Director of Community Solar Initiatives. Jude is hard at work making sure the clean energy transition is just and inclusive, especially for low-income and moderate-income customers through community solar. We found time in his busy schedule to ask 6 questions about community solar, solar education, and New Hampshire’s solar opportunities and challenges.
As Director of Community Solar Initiatives, what does your job entail?
I lead ReVision Energy on community solar projects with schools and nonprofits. Schools and nonprofits have no tax appetite to take advantage of federal tax incentives to reduce the cost of installing solar. As part of my role, I work with mission-aligned impact investors to use their tax advantage to help provide funding for schools and nonprofits including low-moderate income (LMI) communities.
I also work with state agencies such as the NH PUC to secure grants to support community solar projects for LMI customers. Additionally, I engage in solarize campaigns and other advocacy activities to educate the public about the benefits of community solar. While not my primary focus, I also work on projects with businesses and municipals.
What brought you to ReVision Energy?
I am a clean energy enthusiast (especially solar energy) and I have previously worked in the clean energy sector in Ghana and the UK. I have also researched the benefits of community solar, especially for underserved communities and I feel very passionate about ensuring all-inclusive energy transitions. I saw a perfect alignment between my area of interest and ReVision Energy’s core values, and that’s the reason I chose ReVision Energy.
In your opinion, what are the best ways to educate people about renewable energy?
People generally, especially skeptics, want to see concrete evidence before accepting that renewable energy can help solve our climate crisis. While there are several ways to do that, I would start with the following four strategies:
- Show graphic evidence of the negative impact of climate change caused by fossil fuels, and follow that with information on the benefits of renewable energy, such as cost-savings and environmental benefits.
- Organize local community forums or campaigns where the local community energy and climate issues could be contextualized, and renewable energy solutions highlighted as the remedy to the issues underscored.
- Institute regular webinar series either at an institutional or community level to sensitize people on the values of renewable energy.
- Engage with policy makers and thought leaders in the community to garner their support for renewable energy.
Can you talk about the Solarize Schools program that you’ve worked on during your time at ReVision?
I have initiated the Solarize New Hampshire Schools’ campaign within ReVision with the aim of educating schools about the benefits of solar energy and the ways to go solar without upfront cost. The solarize campaign is an existing strategy, but we want to use it to get as many schools as possible in NH to go solar by 2030.
We intend to target large school districts in the state that have many schools with good physical, organizational, and relational characteristics that will facilitate the adoption of solar energy by the schools.
How can we make solar more accessible for low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities?
First, we need state level policies that would make funding available for LMI community solar projects. I would like to see an expansion of the NH PUC renewable energy fund (REF), which is meant to sponsor the development of community solar for LMI customers. The current funding is so limited and can only support one or two projects in a year. There should also be specific federal incentives to promote the development of LMI community solar projects to make it attractive to impact investors. Impact investment is the greatest vehicle to fund community solar projects and make solar energy accessible to LMI communities.
Furthermore, a state tax or federal tax could be imposed on certain commodities such as cigarettes and alcoholic beverages to limit their consumption while raising funds to develop community solar for LMI customers. Additionally, the state or federal government should offer support to organizations that run multi-family LMI housing programs (e.g., Southwestern Community Services, Cheshire Housing etc., as well as Resident-Owned Communities) to enable them to install solar energy for their tenants.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about solar in New Hampshire?
I am passionate about the work that I am involved with at ReVision Energy. However, it’s sad to say that the current energy policies in NH do not support community solar projects. States like California, Colorado, and even neighboring states like Massachusetts and Maine where favorable clean energy policies exist, are seeing exponential growth in community solar projects. I’m hopeful that NH will see a change in the current legislation to promote community solar soon.