Rural communities, residents and utilities have traditionally relied on cheap, dirty fossil fuels. Often too remote to be connected directly to the national energy grid, rural Americans have traditionally banded together into co-ops, generating and purchasing enough power to sustain cities in a very specific geographic area. Limited access and low prices has traditionally shaped the market, and coal had long dominated. However, the energy co-op is experiencing a renewable renaissance as communities are shifting to solar.
The shift underway is a sign of changing preferences, priorities, and innovations. But more than anything, one of the greatest drivers of this change is the recognition that investing solar and wind power is good for residents and communities. Solar brings stable, well paying jobs to rural communities where unemployment is often higher than the national average. Solar also makes economic sense. Solar power is reducing the cost of energy generation, lowering the bills for rural families and businesses.
Rural co-ops are good for jobs, for families and businesses, and are good for the climate. Community leaders must nudge residents to adopt and prioritize renewables as a political and environmental winner. Find out how by visiting Path to Positive Communities!
In the US, rural areas and constituencies have typically weighed against progress on clean energy. But that may be changing.
A new story out of Wisconsin illustrates that a slow, tentative shift is underway, as rural electricity consumers and the utilities that serve them take a new look at the benefits of solar power.
In fact, if you squint just right, you can even glimpse a future in which rural America is at the vanguard of decarbonization. The self-reliance and local jobs enabled by renewable energy are of unique value in rural areas, and rural leaders are beginning to recognize that solar isn't just for elitist coastal hippies any more.
To appreciate what's happening, let's back up a bit.
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