Hero of the Week: Jason Carney Bringing Solar Power to Minority Neighborhoods in Nashville
Jason Carney Photo: Tamara Reynolds for NPR
National Public Radio (NPR) this week did a wonderful profile of Jason Carney, a solar panel installer in Nashville, who was startled to learn that, according to a 2015 survey of jobs in the solar industry, 0.0% of solar workers in the state of Tennessee were African American. Given that solar installations are booming across the U.S., he wondered why there was just no talk about solar or clean energy within Nashville’s black communities. And it turns out that because so few people in minority communities have solar power, its benefits are not discussed by residents and thus it just has not caught on there. NPR recently profiled Carney who is determined to bring solar to more neighborhoods like his own, through advocacy work over the past few years at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and now at his own clean energy consulting business. In addition, he is working with students at Whites Creek High School, a majority-black, majority-low-income public school in Nashville — helping them build a solar array as an educational model to train students to work in the industry, but also to get the conversation about solar power started in the community. One of the recent graduates of Whites Creek High described the power of Carney’s example, saying to NPR “We turned this field from nothing to something,” and gave Carney credit for inspiring him to take a leadership role. “He made me want to do this.” For Carney’s efforts to inspire students to work in renewable energy and to bring its benefits to minority neighborhoods in his home town of Nashville, we salute him.