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Social Change Through Solar Energy

October 13, 2016

India's community solar project inspires others to engage in social change and alternative energy.

How is community solar part of the solution to the problems of inequality and climate change across the earth? In India where over 300 million citizens (roughly the population of the US) is still without electricity, community solar is arriving to electrify remote rural villages with solar microgrids that are packaged in new ownership and governance structures that empower women. In Duluth and Northern Minnesota, community solar is also newly arriving, but in what social forms and to what social ends?  This panel-led discussion considered whether Minnesota's community solar is also emerging with new ownership and governance models that make this technology a vehicle for social change. What can our local community solar initiatives learn from the village solar model in India?  And how might public art be engaged to help us better imagine the potential “community” and “social ecology” values of community solar?

Anshuman Lath spoke about his work with community trust owned solar in rural villages of India and Kathryn Milun and BJ Allen spoke about their work combining community trust solar and federal energy assistance for low-income neighborhoods in Duluth and for Native American Tribes in the Midwest. The event provided an opportunity for members of the UMD and wider community to learn from our distant Indian and local Northland innovators about the value of community solar for social change.


Cultural Entrepreneurship Program, UMD
Institute on the Environment, UMTC
Anthropology Program, UMD
Office For Sustainability, UMD
Center For Social Research, UMD

For info contact:
Aparna Katre
Assistant Professor of Cultural Entrepreneurship