Volt Energy Utility and Its Work on Environmental Justice
At Leyline, we understand the importance of developing clean technologies and expanding the scope and equitability of clean technology growth. Many in the United States have been long deprived of a livable community. Centuries of oppressive policies perpetuate economic and racial inequalities that still exist. Those living in historically underserved areas—typically economically distressed populations and/or people of color—bear a disproportionate burden of negative health and safety outcomes from environmental crises. Decision makers have neglected to fund healthy conditions, infrastructure resilience, and sustainable development in these communities. What’s more, they have also taken advantage of these areas’ limited legal and political power. Communities of color have long been a target for toxic waste, heavily polluting factories, and other injustices.
Transitioning to a clean energy economy requires that historically underserved communities are not left out of the equation. Leyline issued a Statement on Equity in July of last year in which we acknowledged that Black people are underrepresented in the renewable energy field. We pledged to identify specific areas in clean technology education, finance, and employment where we can broaden socioeconomic and racial equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I). You can check out our quarterly ED&I progress report here.
Volt Energy Utility’s Role in Addressing Equity Issues
Leyline has been active in Renewables Forward, an organization whose goal is to “develop specific ways to create the change we all recognize we need, commit to this change, and drive a larger industry-wide partnership between CEOs and organizations.” This affiliation created a partnership between Leyline and Volt Energy Utility, a Black-owned utility-scale solar energy development firm that works with corporate partners to develop, finance, and build utility-scale solar projects across the United States.
Gilbert Campbell, a serial clean energy entrepreneur, is founder and CEO of Volt Energy Utility. Gilbert is a champion of diversity and equity in clean technology and passionate about elevating people of color in the industry. He works to diversify leadership at organizations by serving on the boards of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, the American Association of Blacks in Energy, and the Advisory Board at 3Degrees.
Gilbert’s first clean energy firm, Volt Energy, is a solar distributive generation company which he co-founded in 2010. Examples of his first company’s work include installation solar projects at Subaru, Cheesecake Factory, and the historically black college Howard University.
Volt Energy Utility: The Frontrunner in Environmental Justice Power Purchase Agreements
Earlier this year, Gilbert founded Volt Energy Utility with the mission to develop utility-scale solar projects for large private-sector corporations that align with their clean energy goals and diverse supplier objectives.
As a company, Volt Energy Utility operates on an environmental, social, governance renewable energy platform. In other words, the company seeks to understand how its actions interact with the environment, society, and responsible governance. The company is unique as the creator of the Environmental Justice Power Purchase Agreement (EJ PPA). The EJ PPA allocates a portion of the revenue generated by a large solar project to support environmental health and economic justice programs in urban and rural communities that historically have been disproportionally affected by the adverse health and economic consequences of pollution and global warming. These communities also have been excluded from the job creation and business opportunities generated by the growing clean energy economy.
Volt Energy Utility recently completed its first EJ PPA and renewable energy deal with Microsoft. The initiative includes developing and operating a 250-megawatt utility-scale solar project as part of Microsoft’s 2050 100 percent renewable energy target. Revenue will support workforce development and training, new sustainability jobs, renewable energy benefits, and clean energy growth in these underserved communities. We are happy to see Gilbert’s success in broadening ED&I in the clean energy sector.