Why You Should Get Excited About RE-volv's Partnership with Dickinson

Nestled halfway between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Carlisle strikes an innocuous image of a sleepy town in rural Pennsylvania. Farms, rolling hills, mom-and-pop shops, photovoltaic solar panels – wait, solar panels? Carlisle is home to Dickinson College, one of the nation’s leaders in sustainability efforts. In 2018, Dickinson installed 12,400 solar panels as part of a purchasing power agreement (PPA) with Tesla. And if seeing 12,400 solar panels in a sleepy town in rural Pennsylvania wasn’t bizarre enough, imagine sheep grazing in the solar panel field to prevent the grass from getting too high, and now you have a great image of our solar array! Our newly-founded Dickinson Solar Ambassador team is committed to making these “bizarre” images mainstream – we are on a mission to bring solar to non-profits in our surrounding community.

Dickinson’s Current Sustainability Efforts

When it comes to sustainability, Dickinson has a long history of leading by example. Dickinson is one of just 23 colleges in the U.S. to make the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll. We are the first college in Pennsylvania -- and one of the few in the entire country -- to reach carbon neutrality (achieved in 2020). Dickinson has been featured in various magazines, such as Sierra magazine, Forbes, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, for outstanding achievements in sustainability. Recently, Dickinson has partnered with three other local universities to sign a fifteen-year virtual power purchase agreement to buy renewable energy that will be generated by a 200 plus acre solar farm in Texas. This project will help prevent over 70,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each year.

Why We Wanted to Join Forces With RE-volv

When the opportunity arose, partnering with RE-volv was a no-brainer. Our carefully chosen team of six students, led by sophomore Patrick Noonan and senior Kiara Smith, mixes diverse skill sets to create a well-rounded, cohesive unit. We are working with Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education and the Community Engagement Team in order to plan far-reaching events to inform both our fellow students and the local community about what RE-volv does. The Dickinson team is beyond excited to get to work and create meaningful change in the community that has given us so much. Our partnership with RE-volv allows us to do exactly that: create meaningful change. RE-volv's business model is perfectly suited to help the non-profits of central Pennsylvania. In our small-town rural community, word travels fast – and soon, everyone will be talking about photovoltaic solar panels.

Solar Energy Isn’t Perfect – But Here’s Why It Doesn’t Matter

All too often, the narrative of climate change sounds like a doom-and-gloom, apocalypse-is-nigh story. People often try to invoke fear in order to create change – a quick scroll of social media is proof enough. While the perils of climate change are not to be understated, it is also an incredible opportunity for growth and innovation. Renewable energy is one of the fastest growing fields in the world. It has and will continue to provide countless jobs while decreasing our fossil fuel emissions and ultimately helping the world become a better place. Now, it is true that there are some wrinkles in solar energy; sunshine varies dramatically day to day, week to week, and season to season. For example, imagine if there is a month-long sun-less stretch that leaves much of the Midwest without power. However, not fully pursuing renewable energy because of this problem is effectively equivalent to expecting technological stagnation for the next couple of decades. Humanity has always innovated to solve problems, and humanity will innovate once again to fix solar power’s few flaws.

Solar’s Potential for Unity

Perhaps best of all, solar power has the ability to unite us. No matter your political beliefs, you can’t argue with an increase in jobs and rapid economic growth. No matter your background, you can’t deny that getting power directly from the sun is mind-blowingly cool. This potential for unity is something that Andreas Karelas, RE-volv’s Executive Director, and the RE-volv team understands, and this is part of the reason we were so excited to start working with RE-volv. RE-volv emphasizes community building as part of the Solar Ambassador Program through local events and ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Most of all, they believe in the power of good old-fashioned word of mouth. One organization’s solar panels will provoke conversations about solar from local residents, especially in historic Carlisle.

Moving Forward

Our Dickinson team is just getting started, but RE-volv has given us all the tools to make a genuine, positive impact on our beloved community. Carlisle is a small, tight-knit community and with their support, the Dickinson team is sure that RE-volv will flourish. We have big things planned, and we are excited to show them to you. To any other college students reading this, I implore you to reach out to RE-volv and attempt to start a partnership of your own. Solar energy is undoubtedly our future. It is our mission to make it our present as well, one panel at a time.

About the Authors

Peter Gaston is a sophomore majoring in Quantitative Economics, Environmental Studies, and International Studies with a passion for nature and every outdoorsy activity that comes with it! He views clean energy as our future and would love to work on the economic/financial side of clean energy.
Katherine Vill Katherine Vill is a senior majoring in Economics and a member of the softball team at Dickinson. She is determined to help local communities become more sustainable and would like to carry that goal into her future career working into the marketing industry.

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