The First Black Woman Founder in Solar Is Energizing the Industry

WeSolar offers affordable energy to low- and moderate-income families.

Call it socially conscious solar.

WeSolar is a Baltimore-based company that provides affordable energy to low- and moderate-income families, and its face is Kristal Hansley — the first Black woman to start and run a solar company.

On her website, CEO Hansley calls herself a “disrupter” who believes that social justice and equality can also be achieved through renewable solar energy, a field dominated by men. And the law is on her side — in May 2019, Maryland politicians passed legislation that 50% of its electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030.

She was recently featured in Vogue, which highlighted Hansley’s connection with her grandmother, a fixture in the Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood where Hansley grew up. Her grandmother sparked a passion for community organizing.

“I hated it at first,” Hansley told the fashion magazine, “but then it was already entrenched in my life.”

Hansley first worked for a company called Neighborhood Sun, going door to door to sign up low- and moderate-income residents for the company’s solar farms. This was how she became a “solar woman,” she has said.

Now, her main goal is to reduce monthly expenses for her customers — mostly low-income Black households in Maryland — by at least 25% and help them save about $300 a year.

“From the moment the idea for WeSolar came to me, I was determined to make this a different kind of energy company,” Hansley writes on WeSolar’s website. “One that is dedicated to giving people control over their expenditures on electricity and offer them better value.”

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