Volunteer profile: Frank Mitchell – Washington, D.C.

By Zach Schalk on June 13, 2018
Frank Mitchell (second from right) joined a group of volunteers and staff to canvass the Edgewood neighborhood in May to help spread the word about the 51st State Solar Co-op!

Frank Mitchell is a co-op participant and volunteer with Solar United Neighbors of D.C., helping us spread the word about the 51st State Solar Co-op. The co-op, which just opened a second round for new signups, includes grant funding to cover the cost of going solar for eligible low- and moderate-income District residents through the Department of Energy & Environment’s (DOEE) Solar for All program. You can join the 51st State Solar Co-op today!

We talked to Frank to learn more about his experience with the 51st State Solar Co-op and why he chooses to volunteer his time with Solar United Neighbors.

Why did you decide to join the 51st State Solar Co-op?

For a number of years, I have been researching how to get solar panels installed on my home, but the options and pricing were not to my advantage. I joined the co-op to learn more about solar power and to get the best solar installation options for me and my family.

What motivated you to become engaged with Solar United Neighbors and to help spread the word about the 51st State Solar Co-op?

The main factor that motivated me to become a solar activist was that too many people in Washington, D.C. do not understand the benefits of going solar. There is a lot of mystery about the process and I felt that with my over five years of continuous research allows me to bring more to the table than just saying “go solar.”

What do you enjoy about solar activism?

I really enjoy helping people and giving back. My greatest joy is when I am able to explain the process in a way that they actually understand, then they move on the information I provide, and they get the solar panels installed.

What lessons have you learned as a solar supporter and activist that you think others should know about?

Details, details, details are the most important thing about being a solar supporter. A solar supporter must exude honesty, provide detailed information about the true costs, actual procedures, and any drawbacks of going solar. As an activist, you must thoroughly know and understand these details/drawbacks. For instance, the condition of a resident’s roof and electrical panel must be discussed, and clear details regarding how to apply to the solar program.

What advice would you give to other D.C. solar supporters interested in getting more involved with Solar United Neighbors?

If you plan to provide half-baked information that makes the process of going solar sound less expensive, simple and easy to implement, DO NOT GET INVOLVED. Learn the real-world details about the costs and actual process of going solar, and be completely transparent when explaining the cost. Credibility and honesty is all you have, and once you tarnish that you will lose interested listeners.

I have found that D.C. residents who may be qualified for the Solar for All solar co-op program perceive going solar to be difficult to understand. If the cost and procedure to go solar is not presented in a simple and totally transparent way, the process is not trusted.