In honor of Black History Month, NCSEA will post a weekly blog post throughout February to honor the contributions African Americans have made towards advancing the clean energy landscape across the United States. 

 

Kristal Hansley is the first female African American CEO within the community solar industry in the United States. She is the founder of WeSolara community solar company located in Baltimore, that works to ensure low-income communities and communities of color are part of the transition to a clean energy society. 

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Kristal has always been passionate about standing up for the rights of others.[3] She graduated from Howard University in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Sociology, and she focused her studies on diversity, access to affordable housing, and education.[3] She began her solar career working on Capitol Hill as a lobbyist for approximately five years where she gained experience in policy implementation and learned how various policies can impact communities.[1]  

Kristal advanced her solar career as Director of Government and Community Relations at Neighborhood Sun[3] where she worked to enroll low- and moderate-income earners into the company’s solar farms.[1] In this position, she helped thousands of low-and moderate-income earners save on their utility bills.[3] 

Looking for new ways to apply and expand her knowledge of the solar industry, Kristal imagined owning her own community solar company, and thus the beginning seeds of WeSolar were planted. “From the moment the idea for WeSolar came to me, I was determined to make this a different kind of energy company – one that is dedicated to giving people control over their expenditures on electricity and offer them better value,” Kristal remembers.[3] 

WeSolar was officially launched last Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States.[1] “I was sending a message out the gate for the equity,” Krystal said in a Vogue interview.[1] WeSolar’s mission is to bring under-resourced communities affordable access to local community solar and to assist commercial properties with energy efficiency.[3] 

Community solar allows members of a community to share the benefits of solar without necessarily having to install solar on their property. This is a solution for households and businesses that have barriers to installing solar as they may rent, live in multi-tenant buildings, have roofs that are unable to host a solar system, or experience some other limiting circumstance. Learn more on NCSEA’s community solar page. 

WeSolar is currently based in Baltimore, a predominately African American city that has a history of being excluded from the clean energy transition.[3] One of Kristal’s goals with WeSolar is to prioritize communities of color and build trust within these communities. She says that she hopes her organization can be the medium needed to inform these communities that “community solar is actually a legitimate program, it’s been passed in your state legislature and you can tap into these resources and now you actually have access to solar when you didn’t have it before.[2] Kristal hopes that WeSolar will soon expand to other serve more cities.[2] 

Kristal is an active member of her community. She serves on the Steering Committee for the Baltimore People Climate Movement, and is on the board of directors for several organizations including Maryland Baptist Aged HomeDads United Organization, and Freedom Advocates Celebrating Ex-Offenders.[2]
 

Works Cited 

[1] Funes, Yessenia. “‘Born for This’: Meet the First Black Woman to Launch a Community Solar Company.” Vogue, 27 Oct. 2020, www.vogue.com/article/meet-kristal-hansley-wesolar-ceo. 

[2] “Meet Kristal Hansley, the Woman behind the First Black Female-Owned Solar Company.” GhanaWeb, 15 Oct. 2020, www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/africa/Meet-Kristal-Hansley-the-woman-behind-the-first-Black-female-owned-solar-company-1085689. 

[3] WeSOLAR.” WeSolarwesolar.energy/about/. 

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