This week we’re speaking with Megan Amsler, Executive Director of Self-Reliance Heat & Power Coop. Self-Reliance is just one of the many great organizations we’ve partnered with to launch Mass Solar Connect.
Siena Hacker: Megan, thank you so much for joining Pick My Solar for an interview. I’d love to start off by learning a little more about your organization. What inspired Self-Reliance’s creation, and how does that mission manifest itself today?
Megan Amsler: Self-Reliance was founded in 1980 though the collaboration of the Housing Assistance Corporation, The Wampanoag Tribe and the New Alchemy Institute to create a local organization with a focus on energy. Our mission is to simplify complex energy concepts to educate, inspire and empower people to take action. As an independent, objective authority, we help people navigate energy choices and empower them to make decisions that save money, increase comfort and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
SH: What makes southeastern Massachusetts’ situation unique, and what steps can members take to reduce their energy costs?
MA: Self-Reliance serves the southeastern part of Massachusetts with its variety of services focused on helping people making informed decisions about their energy choices. We help businesses, institutions and individuals understand their energy consumption and costs. We review what viable options they have for improving energy efficiency of appliances and the building envelope. We discuss their short and long-term energy goals and how well-sited renewable energy can play a role in helping the reduce their fossil fuel consumption, save money and increase their comfort. We help people better understand the incentives available for energy efficient appliances, from ductless mini-splits, to replacing their oil burner that is 30 years old. We offer much needed objective information on solar technologies and the value of ownership and community-shared options.
SH: How does solar fit into Self-Reliance’s mission?
MA: Self-Reliance has been working to bring more solar energy technologies to the region since its inception. In the 1980s, Self-Reliance was active in promoting and installing solar hot water systems. In 2002, Self-Reliance was one of the first organizations to facilitate photovoltaic installations for SE Mass, as we were awarded funds to provide rebates through the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund. Through the U.S. Department of Energy, we established Barnstable County as a Million Solar Roof Partner with a goal of breaking down many barriers to greater adoption of solar in the region. That included providing educational outreach to electrical trades people and inspectors, the utilities as well as customers interested in installing solar. We have conducted NABCEP training and done countless workforce trainings to build the local trades people's experience in the renewable energy sector.
Self-Reliance continues to be an organization that provides objective expertise on solar technologies and energy efficient technologies to encourage people to take action and install technologies that reduce their fossil fuel consumption.
SH: Why did you decide to join Mass Solar Connect, and how is Self Reliance participating?
MA: Self-Reliance has been a long-standing advocate and facilitator of solar energy installations. We thought that collaborating with the Marion Institute's Southcoast Energy Challenge would be a great way for two local NGOs to work together to help their collective constituents make informed decisions about going solar. The MA Clean Energy Center partnered Self-Reliance and Marion Institute with Pick My Solar as the platform to help people get access to solar companies in a new way.
Working together with Pick My Solar, Self-Reliance and the Marion Institute's Southcoast Energy Challenge have been helping raise awareness of the Pick My Solar Platform and going over solar basics for people who are ready to take the next step.
SH: Megan, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. We’re so excited to work with you and the Marion Institute to help residents go solar during Mass Solar Connect!