A new partnership between Sunrun, the country’s largest residential solar company, and a Chicago nonprofit seeks to expand access to solar energy and jobs on the city’s South Side.
“Communities of color contribute the least yet suffer first and worst from the harms of global warming,” said Naomi Davis, president and founder of Blacks in Green, an environmental and sustainable development advocacy group, in a statement.
Davis said the partnership supports her group’s efforts to boost employment for South Side residents in the clean energy field. There is already momentum on this front in Illinois: The state added 1,300 solar jobs last year, defying a national trend that has seen a decline in solar jobs linked to the Trump administration’s implementation of a 30% tariff on imported solar components.
Such job growth is “essential to helping close Chicago’s racial health and wealth gap,” she said in a statement.
The California-based company will work with Blacks in Green to recruit candidates for solar jobs.
The initiative also aims to give South Side homeowners affordable options for installing solar energy systems. The groups will work together to organize educational events for residents to learn about rooftop solar systems, including Illinois’ “Solar for All” program designed to increase access to solar energy in low-income communities.
“We are focused on creating a more diverse and inclusive solar workforce and community,” said Amy Heart, Sunrun’s director of public policy, in a statement. “Our partnership with Blacks in Green, along with forward-looking state policy, will be critical in helping us expand this effort and bring more clean, affordable energy to the communities that need it most.”
The new initiative kicks off this weekend with Blacks in Green’s grand opening of “The Green Living Room,” which the organization describes as a new kind of coffee house that combines coffee, culture and climate solutions all in one place.
The event is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at 6431 S. Cottage Grove Ave.