Place-based programs in clean and equitable community energy

This solution addresses a lack of affordable, local, and clean energy in Mid-Atlantic US for working families, small businesses, and community organizations

  • Groundswell logo

Problem Description

Today, the poorest 20% of Americans are paying 10% or more of their total income for electricity and at least 49% of America can’t access rooftop solar. Control of energy by large utilities means that otherwise abundanant and cheap clean energy is inaccessible to the income-restricted consumer. Groundswell, the owner of this solution, counters this by offering place-based programs in equitable community solar, energy efficiency, rooftop solar, and affordable wind power.

Building Blocks


Groundswell was founded in 2009 by a group of field organizers who worked together on Obama for America during the 2008 Presidential campaign. Since it's founding it has grown from a local nonprofit organization to a Mid-Atlantic leader in clean energy across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, and f Washington DC.

Groundswell has produced results through community organizing – expanding affordable access to wind, solar, and energy efficiency while reducing carbon emissions. It has switched more than 4,000 families and small businesses to clean power and contracted for the sale of 225 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean energy, resulting in 155,000 metric tons of carbon pollution reduction.

Sustainable Development Goals

On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. This solution covers the following goals:

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Social Progress Index

  • Ecosystem Sustainability - Is this society using its resources so they will be available to future generations?
  • Personal Freedom and Choice (Agency) - Are people free of restrictions on their personal decisions?
  • Photos

    • Groundswell logo
    • About groundswell
    • Images %281%29


    • Groundswell Stories

      A collection of blog posts and communications pieces highlighting Groundswell's work.

    • From Power to Empowerment

      A report from Groundswell: "Just as far sighted regulators and entrepreneurs leveraged universal access to electricity to drive inclusive economic growth in the 20th century, today’s leaders must take significant strides to make renewable energy accessible for all Americans. This is not simply a matter of fairness and equity. Existing market practices and public policies in both renewable energy production and energy efficiency are failing to benefit low and moderate income families, resulting in missed opportunities for economic growth. This white paper details the critical relationship between energy and economic opportunity in the United States, as well as a call to action to accelerate the adoption of community solar legislation, to expand and support energy efficiency programs that align with community solar, and to drive consumer adoption of these programs through place-based community organizations."

    • Groundswell Annual Report 2014

    Organisations Involved

    Contributed By

    • Patrick Sabol, Groundswell
    • Nadya Dutchin, Groundswell

    Solution Stage

    One of the 7 stages of an innovation. Learn more
    Developing and implementing5
    Strong leadership, management, implementation skills
    • Policy design
    • Programme design
    • Business modelling
    • Organisational design
    • Prepare for some adaptation to implementation
    • Programme funds, equity, loans, grants
    A robust and detailed case developed through formal evaluation and evidence gathering – use of a control group to isolate impact
    An implemented and sustainable innovation

    Key Details

    Social Progress Index
    Ecosystem SustainabilityPersonal Freedom and Choice (Agency)
    Sustainable Development Goals
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