Mona, as our summer intern, can you tell me a little about your background in the environmental and clean energy space?
I am currently a graduate student at Binghamton University where I am studying sustainable communities. I wanted to be in the environmental field for as long as I can remember as I’ve always been interested in it. I have this memory from when I was taking a science exam in third grade and I had to read an article on GMOs and climate change and I thought that it was really interesting. Then, events like Hurricane Sandy happened and I became more aware of climate change. In college, I joined an environmental club called Zero Hour and all of that led me to the policy part of climate change and the accompanying social issues.
What made you interested in community solar specifically?
When I was in college, I wanted to use environmentalism to help low-income communities. I wanted to help take the energy burden off of these communities because growing up, my grandmother had to deal with this. At the time, I didn’t know that there was something that could support these communities by lowering their energy burden. But when I became an intern for Sustainable Westchester, I learned a little bit about community solar and thought it could be a good fit as it aligned with my goals. It allows you to stay local and grounded. I want to be somewhere that listens to the community and nonprofits within the community. I don't want to be a policymaker on Capitol Hill, making decisions for people that I haven't even met. I want my work to be hands on and I feel like that’s why community solar makes sense for me.
What excited you most about community solar and the potential the industry has?
I enjoy the hands-on part of our work and recognizing that you’re dealing with actual people. Everything is interconnected. I like doing research and reading policies to see what’s available in different areas. Knowing that there are people who are passionate about helping people for the long run and expanding community solar is what really drives me. I am looking forward to the market expanding to not only Western countries but also to second world countries as well. These countries are being most affected by climate change and might not have the means to adapt to a changing climate. I am looking forward to making sure that everyone can access the changes they need. I feel like where I come from, East New York, it is one of those areas that people tend to forget is part of the city. It is an example of a place that really needs help and it’s where I want to see community solar thrive.
What made you want to be a PowerMarket intern?
I think my work with Sustainable Westchester helped me understand what community solar was. I also heard from my boss there about the intern opportunity at PowerMarket and I did research on PowerMarket and thought it sounded very interesting. When I interviewed with Jason, I think that’s what really pulled me in. He is so passionate about PowerMarket and community solar. When I mentioned that I wanted to help people with my work, he said “Yeah, that’s what we’re doing! And what we have done!” And that is really why I wanted to join PowerMarket and since joining I have seen that it is true.
What have you liked about being a PowerMarket intern?
I have really enjoyed that there has been a huge learning curve with everything I have done. From dealing with internal information, to handling data, to researching policies, to supporting proposals, etc. I have gotten to experience a lot while being an intern at PowerMarket. I was also put into different positions that required me to do things such as write memos and email with a variety of people and I can use these experiences on any path I go down in the future. I feel like this is the best professional experience I have had.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I'm obsessed with reading anime. I love to read comics and things like that!