Thoughts from Abbie Weeks and Jeff Boyce
Today we put up the last of the solar panels on Mr. Conquering Bear’s house and finished a project that began as soon as I returned from Uganda last summer.
I can’t help but smile remembering the moment the solar panels were live and began to generate electricity. All of the team was gathered around the meter and, as miraculously as working against gravity, it spun backwards; energy was going back into the grid.
Often times, environmental conservation works feels just like that: like working against gravity: as if pursuing sustainability means pushing back at some unstoppable force of economics or some inevitable path for our planet.
But this solar installation on Pine Ridge is another piece of evidence that the protection of our planet and the prosperity of our species are simultaneously attainable. Solar works. Renewable energy is a realistic solution.
This trip to Pine Ridge was full of not only incredible memories and people, but of a sense of community and purpose. Late night campfires and games of Frisbee strengthened friendships and created utter joy. Meetings with the Pine Ridge Housing Authority, lessons from the Solar Corps team at Grid Alternatives, and stories from local tribal members, strengthened my sense of purpose, and created profound awe.
I have graduated high school, and the EcoAction chapter at Cherry Creek High School will be passed on to new student leadership. Yet the experiences I have had working with communities towards affordable and sustainable energy are already writing the next years of my life. How lucky am I to have met so many kindred souls, to have traveled across the world and the United States, and to have the support of my community in this incredible adventure. I want to thank Jeff Boyce: teacher, mentor, and incredible human being for his undying support of my dreams. He helped me make so many of them come true.
There is always a finality to the closing of one chapter and the beginning of the next, but I have no doubt that EcoAction and you, reader, will defy gravity and continue to fulfill our responsibility to our planet and each other. We need action and activists now more than ever.
Best of luck, and my immense gratitude to each and every person I have met so far on this journey.
All my love,
I became an environmental scientist because I care about this beautiful planet that we share. I became a teacher because it is future generations that will need to solve the problems that we collectively face.
The PV install in Pine Ridge was complete when the net electricity meter slowed down and reversed direction. This was the moment that the 3 roof arrays consisting of 21 individual panels came online and began producing more electricity than the home was consuming.
This installation of this 7.2 kW system marks a decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide that is released by the combustion of fossil fuels to generate electricity. This system will generate approximately 15,000 kWh of electricity per year. The Nebraska Power Association generates electricity for Pine Ridge and uses coal for almost 65% of that electricity. A single kWh of electricity from coal releases 1.2 pounds of carbon dioxide. This install represents a decrease of just less than 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
This is real change. We don’t to need to wait for people in Washington to legislate change, we need to educate people and change how we approach our consumptive lifestyles.
I want to thank Grid Alternatives for allowing us to partner with them. This trip changed the lives of my students and opened my eyes to the power of learning outside the classroom. The folks at Grid went out of their way to educate, to engage and empower my students each and every day. They are true “Solar Warriors”!
Riley Weeks and Abbie Weeks Sending up the last of the solar panels