#LLABlog – Meet Kristal Hansley, First Black Woman to Launch a Community Solar Energy Company
Kristal Hansley is the CEO of WeSolar, a community solar company providing affordable energy to low and moderate-income families. She became the first Black woman to launch a solar company when she founded WeSolar, already leaving her mark on an industry that is notoriously dominated by white people or, well, white men.
Among senior executives, 88% are white and 80% are men, according to the 2019 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study. Hansley didn’t let that hold her back. In fact, she’s celebrating her Blackness through WeSolar. This historic feat stems from Hansley’s conviction of the role solar energy could play in reducing the cost of electricity for households.
Hansley worked at Neighborhood Sun, a regional solar company in Maryland, as director of Government and Community Relations. She saw how solar power helped thousands of low-to-moderate-income families save on their utility bills. It was at this point that she decided to launch her own company dedicated specifically to opening community solar farms in cities like Baltimore.
Under her leadership, WeSolar has built solar plants to be used on a local grid in black communities where customers can either subscribe to blocks of electricity or purchase a portion of the solar panels. Hansley’s overarching ambition will be to help Black and mostly low-income communities get affordable power.
In America, low-income black homeowners pay more for electricity than their counterpart white homeowners, according to the University of California, Berkeley, Energy Institute at Haas. The “disproportionate costs” result in a Black household energy burden that perpetuates wealth and housing disparities, the paper added.
We Solar is one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the US, providing consumers across Maryland access to affordable solar energy, regardless whether they live in a house, apartment, condo, or mobile home.
In her spare time, Hansley serves on the Steering Committee for the non-profit Baltimore People Climate Movement and the board of directors of Maryland Baptist Aged Home, Dads United Organization, and F.A.C.E. (Freedom Advocates Celebrating Ex-Offenders).
We applaud Kristal Hansley for her outstanding work in sustainable energy space. Keep up the great works!