Solar for Soulsville

Memphis Rox, the Honnold Foundation, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy are advancing solar energy adoption to ease the energy burden in Tennessee 

May 25, 2021
Contact: Amy Rawe, SACE, 865-235-1448, [email protected]; Peter Walle, Communications and Operations Coordinator at the Honnold Foundation [email protected]; 978-480-0745; Sarah Grai, Director of One Family Memphis, [email protected] 

Memphis, Tenn. –  Memphis Rox (MR) and One Family Memphis (OFM), a nonprofit climbing facility and community center, the Honnold Foundation (HF), a solar energy access nonprofit founded in 2012 by prominent rock climber, Alex Honnold, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), a nonprofit organization promoting clean, equitable energy choices in the Southeast, have partnered to bring solar energy to the heart of Soulsville, South Memphis. Over the coming months, the three nonprofits will join forces to tell the story of energy inequity in Memphis, Tennessee, demonstrate opportunities for Memphians to ease their energy burdens, and advocate for policy reforms to help bring these opportunities to fruition. 

Inspired by One Family Memphis and Memphis Rox’s commitment to investing in people, not profits, the Honnold Foundation will fund a 20 kW solar photovoltaic installation that reduces the community and climbing center’s annual energy consumption and costs by 21%. With a portion of Memphis Rox’s energy costs reduced, more funds will be available to fulfill their mission rather than to pay expensive monthly power bills. 

“Supporting Memphis Rox is a no-brainer,” said Kate Trujillo, Director of Programs at the Honnold Foundation. “They’ve become an essential fixture for their community, and are fighting for a brighter Memphis daily. This project will save them money while sending a message that affordable energy is possible for all Memphians.” 

The installation is just a small example of how solar energy could ease energy burdens and create a cleaner community for all Memphians. Historically, South Memphis has been subject to severe environmental inequity. Residents of the Memphis metro area pay some of the highest utility bills in the nation. If coupled with meaningful policy change, this solar installation will catalyze environmental justice reform, first in Memphis, and then inspiring similar reforms throughout Tennessee. 

“We are tremendously grateful for the support of the Honnold Foundation as we work together to bring solar energy to our community,” said Sarah Grai, Director of One Family Memphis. “We understand that expensive utility bills are an obstacle for many families. This solar install is about elevating the local conversation on environmental inequity, leading the way in alleviating the financial barriers many Memphians face, and advocating for the environment. By supporting Memphis Rox and the Soulsville community, the Honnold Foundation is proving yet again that we climb higher when we climb together.” 

“Memphis Rox and Honnold Foundation are demonstrating the power of solar in building communities that model equitable, economic, and environmentally sound solutions,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, SACE’s Executive Director. “Unfortunately, the scale of this project was limited by regressive solar policies enacted by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). These policies fail to provide fair compensation for customer owned solar power on the TVA system.”

Currently, Memphis, Light, Gas and Water’s (MLGW) hands are tied by their contract with TVA, which prevents them from providing more renewable opportunities for local employment, clean energy, and energy savings for city residents. The Honnold Foundation is prepared and committed to funding a larger install for One Family Memphis if and when TVA enables it. 

Memphis Rox’s rooftop solar installation is currently scheduled for completion in August 2021. In the months leading up to installation, the three nonprofits will work together to highlight energy inequities Memphians face daily, and educate local and national audiences about the policy reforms needed to catalyze lasting change that will help Memphians create a more prosperous and healthy future. 


Memphis Rox and One Family Memphis brings rehabilitation, healing and a renewed sense of hope to challenged communities by providing a climbing facility and programs to foster relationships across cultural, racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. We exclude no one — regardless of ability to pay. To learn more, visit

The Honnold Foundation (HF) promotes solar energy for a more equitable world. Founded in 2012 by professional rock climber Alex Honnold, we believe that energy should be clean, affordable, and accessible for everyone. HF provides funding, project management, and a storytelling spotlight to nonprofit partners worldwide, who are using solar energy to create opportunity, increase social equity, and build more resilient communities. To learn more, visit

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible and equitable energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. As a leading voice for energy policy, SACE is a regional organization focused on transforming the way we produce and consume energy in the Southeast. Learn more at


Peter Walle, Communications and Operations Coordinator at the Honnold Foundation, [email protected]; 978-480-0745

Sarah Grai, Director of One Family Memphis, [email protected]

Amy Rawe, Communications Manager at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, [email protected]; 865-235-1448