Hummingbird Community Solar Project Receives SUNNY AWARD

Mason Rolph


The Hummingbird Community Solar project is a finalist for a SUNNY AWARD!

The only Washington state project on the list!  “The Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar (The Sunny Awards) is a $100,000 prize competition that recognizes community solar projects and programs that employ or develop best practices to increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities.” 

A big thankyou to our staff member Zachery Miller who led the application effort. On January 17th, 2023 our team traveled to the Sunny Award Ceremony in San Diego California.

While we did not receive the grand prize, the Hummingbird project received awards in two special benefit categories: innovation in community ownership and innovation in community outreach!

Learn more about the sunny awards here.

Learn more about the Hummingbird Project here.

Thank you for your support these last three years!

All my best,

Mason Rolph

An excerpt from our Sunny Award Submission:

In fall 2019, after the defeat of a climate related ballot initiative by fossil fuel interests, a small group
of climate activists in Olympia Washington decided to take local action to address climate change.

Frustrated by local, state, and federal inaction to address the climate crisis, the group investigated
solutions that could reduce emissions while lifting up vulnerable community members.
After identifying a site for the project and securing support from the local municipality, the group
founded a nonprofit organization, Olympia Community Solar, to sponsor the solar project. The team
solicited solar proposals from local contractors, developed a community funding model, and opened
enrollment for the 117 kW Hummingbird Community Solar Project in April of 2020.

The project’s name “Hummingbird” was inspired by a story told by Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan
social, environmental, and political activist. The story describes a terrible fire that broke out in a
forest. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran from the forest. As they came to safety at
the edge of a stream, they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and
powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes when a little hummingbird flew
out of the woods. It swooped into the stream and picked up a drop of water and flew away to put it
on the fire. The other animals watched in disbelief and one asked “What are you doing?” And the
hummingbird looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”

The solar project is named Hummingbird because it created opportunities for people to participate in
local, tangible climate action.

The main goals of this project are to:

  • Provide access to solar energy to community members historically excluded from the clean
    energy transition such as low-income and renters.
  • Provide community members with the opportunity to support a local nonprofit with donated
    solar subscriptions.
  • Reduce the energy burden of the project host, the Hands On Children’s Museum (HOCM).
  • Educate youth and other visitors of the museum about solar energy benefits, jobs in the solar
    industry, and community solar.

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