One UNC club is making impacts on local communities through renewable energy.
“We're a group that works to solarize affordable housing across North Carolina. That's the first part of our mission," SolarEquity President and UNC junior Will Nichols said. "And then second part is ensuring that our members are educated on the importance of renewable energy as we enter into a more sustainable future.”
While limiting local carbon emissions through their projects is one goal of SolarEquity, one of the main motivations for the club is climate change’s disproportionate effect on low-income communities.
“They emit the least amount of carbon, yet are affected the most by rising temperatures,” Nichols said.
Additionally, the club strives to simultaneously provide these communities with solar power while also reducing homeowners’ energy bills.
In order to carry out these solarization projects, SolarEquity serves as an intermediary between solar panel companies and housing developers.
“We do that by offering expertise on rebates and tax incentives, and we facilitate the donation of solar panels from these solar companies to the housing developers, and then also pay for the physical install of the solar panels,” Nichols said.
Nichols said he started SolarEquity during his sophomore year. He said that working with the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club led him to an internship with Habitat for Humanity, where he worked to solarize houses.
Since the club’s founding, it has grown to around 20 to 25 active members and now comprises four main committees.