This blog was written by SACE’s Communications Intern, Kailie Melchior. It is the second post in a series that interviews former SACE employees or partners and highlights where they are now in their careers. To follow this series and read other interviews, click here.
What is your connection with SACE?
I never actually worked as an employee for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. However, I did work with Green Corps, which is a one year training program in environmental organizing. They train you on how to run grassroots campaigns. I spent four months in Knoxville, and thankfully Steve Smith, SACE’s Executive Director, let me and my partner have a desk at the SACE Knoxville office. We worked on a project with a group called Clear The Air, gathering support for climate legislation. We organized events all across Tennessee.
What is your current position, and what do you work on?
It has been about 10 years since my work with Greencorps. After that, I worked in several environment and energy related jobs. I worked for the Sierra Club, and then went back to graduate school to study international clean energy policy.
I’ve now worked for the Federal government for 6 years. I’m currently at the US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Tech Office, or the SunShot Initiative. We work to make solar faster, cheaper and more accessible.
What do the next five years hold for environmental policy?
The Sunshot Initiative’s goal is to bring the cost of solar power down to the cost of traditional power sources by 2020. Solar is going to be very affordable in the next five years. There are a lot of innovative technologies moving forward regarding transportation and energy. I think we’ll see continued exponential growth in solar every year.
How have you integrated energy savings into your everyday life?
I bike to work, eat locally grown food, and just installed solar panels on my house.
What is your favorite energy saving tip?
LEDs are the easiest thing to do to make a big difference quickly. I also think that community shared solar is a great new tool that can bring solar access to millions of Americans. Community shared solar allows you to move beyond rooftops, and put solar anywhere – a parking lot, landfills, etc. Many people in the community then rent or purchase the panels, and receive credits on their electricity bills. Community shared solar allows people that are renters or those who have unsuitable roofs to go solar.