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Enabling Community Solar Projects

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For the 2020 TomKat Impact Fellowship project, the fellowship was hosted by Shake Energy Collaborative, a startup company spun out of Stanford University and a former TomKat  energyCatalyst grantee. Shake Energy Collaborative believes that renewable energy development can be a powerful economic tool for building a more equitable future. They work with communities to design a solar farm in their neighborhood that fits their values. Once Shake develops a project according to a community’s design, it generates low-carbon energy and financial savings that can be invested back into the community. 

Through this collaborative summer research project, the 2020 TomKat Impact Fellows developed recommendations for the most effective methods of community engagement during the development of a community energy project, and the most equitable structures of project ownership throughout the facility’s 20-30 year lifetime. The fellows conducted research through literature reviews, ethnographic interviews, and workshops under the guidance of Shake Energy Collaborative. The project was based in the San Joaquin Valley in California, where the fellows worked with Shakeʻs current partner organizations and with new communities. The project output will inform the design of engagement strategies and ownership structures that Shake will implement in upcoming projects, as well as provide an important contribution to the field of community energy and energy justice more broadly.

2020 Energy Impact Fellows

Eliana Fuchs '23

Eliana Fuchs self portrait

Eliana Fuchs is a rising sophomore who wants to help forge a greener, more equitable future. She is passionate about combating climate change, fighting racial and gender inequality, and increasing access to comprehensive sex education. She enjoys science and wants her work to make a tangible, positive impact on the planet and on people. She’s undeclared but planning on pursuing the Atmosphere & Energy program. Outside of the classroom, she can be found swimming at the AOERC with the Club Swimming team, baking desserts, hiking and adventuring with friends, or (more realistically right now) on a zoom call. She hopes that working in community solar this summer will give her a better grasp of what a career in renewable energy might look like.

Josue Gil-Silva '23

Josue Gil-Silva self portrait

Josue Gil-Silva was born and raised in Salinas, California, a city of predominantly Latino immigrants. As he got older, he found a passion for Engineering and Design when he joined the Robotics Club in high school. His parents always taught him the importance of giving back to your community, which is why he is passionate about designing for social good. While interning at Shake Energy, Josue is excited to use his passions to provide affordable solar energy to underrepresented communities in Fresno. He is grateful for Shake's mission to achieve social equity and hopes they may be able to build a community energy project in Salinas one day!

Kara Herson '21

Kara Herson self portrait

Kara Herson is a rising senior studying Engineering Physics. She was born and raised in Redwood City, California, and is really interested in working on projects that increase access to renewable energy. She’s excited to be a part of the TomKat Fellowship cohort this summer and to learn about how solar energy can be used to support social impact projects. Outside of her academics, she’s an active member of the women’s rugby team and the climbing team.

Marc Huerta '23

Marc Huerta self portrait

Marc Huerta is a rising sophomore studying electrical engineering. He was born in Managua, Nicaragua and immigrated to the United States around age 3. He then spent most his life up until college living in the Iron Triangle of Richmond, California. As a resident of Richmond, Marc experienced first hand environmental inequity and racism as a local Chevron Refinery polluted and still continues to pollute the region; asthma rates in the Iron Triangle are twice the national average. Probably like many other engineers his age, Marc was heavily inspired by Iron Man to want to become an engineer and change the world as a kid. Specifically narrowing his focus to energy in high school, Marc is interested in energy storage efficiency and capacity as the world transitions to renewables. Aside from this, Marc enjoys watching movies or tv shows, listening to hip-hop/rap, and doing various physical activities (especially basketball). He plans to pursue a masters in computer science.