Powered by people: Volunteers who make the sun shine

By Solar United Neighbors on March 16, 2023

Throughout our work, SUN relies on our incredible solar supporters, whose commitment to solar and to their communities sustains our movement. We spoke with two of our superstar volunteers, Jim Kotcon in West Virginia and Amy Hubbard in Washington D.C., about their work with SUN and what inspires them to dedicate their time and energy to local solar.

How did you first get involved with Solar United Neighbors?

Jim: I first got involved as a member of the Morgantown, WV Solar Co-op in 2015, and have been an enthusiastic supporter ever since.

Amy: I got involved by joining the D.C.-area co-op and having solar panels installed. I had been interested in going solar for some time, but the project seemed overwhelming. Then I found out that SUN was opening a new co-op. It was such a relief to know that we had the guidance of folks who knew the business. After we installed the panels, I decided to continue my involvement by attending the DC Solar Action Team (SAT) meetings.

What kind of volunteer work have you done with SUN?

Jim: I have assisted with publicizing solar co-ops in my neighborhood, and worked with SUN on several issues related to solar legislation and net metering. I have also done tabling at events and hosted a solar open house.

Amy: With SUN’s help, I wrote testimony to the D.C. Council supporting the Local Solar Expansion Amendment Act of 2022. I also publicized the SUN co- op on neighborhood social media and encouraged folks to take advantage of SUN’s expertise.

Why is solar important to you?

Jim: I think that climate change is my most important issue, so switching to renewables exemplifies my personal commitment to that cause. West Virginia’s electric generation is dominated by coal, so demonstrating that solar works is important. Since not everyone has good solar access, or owns their own home, providing community solar is an important step toward a more sustainable grid.

Amy: We are facing an uncertain, most likely dangerous future due to climate change. SUN helps people like me find constructive ways to take action against climate change, and I will be forever grateful.

What would you say to solar supporters who want to get more involved?

Jim: We need more solar subscribers, as well as more political support for solar, so people need to get involved, both through their personal adoption of solar as well as broader policy support for solar in the legislature and before the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

Amy: SUN has been a great source of information about local legislation and administration affecting solar development. I recommend folks attend a DC SAT meeting to find out ways to get involved.

Why is it important to work as a team on energy issues?

Amy: It’s important because whether it’s installing solar panels or contacting the D.C. Council about legislation, it helps so much to have others to consult with and call on for support. No one is born knowing how to install solar panels or lobby for legislation!