Volunteer makes it easier for her neighbors to go solar

By Jody Finver on January 17, 2018
Ahern-Hettich helps choose a solar co-op installer as part of her selection committee.

Colleen Ahern-Hettich is a solar super star. As the Director of Miami-Dade College (MDC) Earth Ethics Institute (EEI), a college-wide initiative she is charged with bringing Earth Literacy and sustainability to MDC and the general population of South Florida.

A long time solar advocate, she attended a Broward Co-Op information session before our Miami-Dade co-ops were formed. EEI was one of the first organizations to partner with our Miami co-ops and Colleen has organized four of our co-op information sessions on campuses in North Miami, Homestead, Doral, and Hialeah. The Institute has been instrumental in helping us grow the solar movement across Miami, promoting our information sessions along their social media channels encouraging students and faculty to get involved, volunteer and, of course, go solar.

Solar Trailblazer

Colleen was one of the first people to join our Central Miami (North) co-op. Her 7.8kW system was installed before her own community’s co-op launched. This meant there would be a home her neighbors could visit to see solar in action. Colleen volunteered to be on the Selection Committee and pored over estimates for nearly four hours with her other committee members. When asked what the experience was like she said, “Being on the selection committee was an amazing and educational process. I am really excited to live my values.”

Citizen advocate

Colleen knew that the co-op for her community was launching in the Fall of 2017 and that solar permits were costly. She wanted that to change that. Colleen says the co-op empowered her to advocate for better solar policy and she reached out to Solar United Neighbors for guidance. Colleen worked with the support of the co-op to present a resolution to waive permitting fees to her Councilwoman, Alice Burch. It passed unanimously. Colleen’s efforts helped homeowners in her community save close to $1,000 in fees.

An educator with an open door policy

When the Northern Miami-Dade co-op launched Colleen opened the doors to her Miami Shores home and held a Solar Open House. She took homeowners up to her roof to proudly show off her system, showed them how she could monitor her system performance, encouraged visitors to sign the Solar Bill of Rights petition and had her laptop set up so people could join the local co-op on the spot.

Today Miami Shores. Tomorrow Doral and Hialeah

Her vision for a sustainable Miami doesn’t end with helping her neighbors. Colleen is hosting two of our upcoming information sessions at MDC Doral and MDC Hialeah for our Western Miami-Dade co-op.

And for this reason we declare Colleen Hettich to be a Solar United Neighbors Super Star. Thank you for your dedication Colleen!