Welcome to our second week of Campaign for New B's. Our industry focus is service, which can encompass a lot of local businesses. For this post, we sat down with Ashley Tryba, Community and Event Coordinator for Solar States. Solar States is a local solar installer that is committed to making solar energy Philly's renewable energy of choice.
We chose Solar States as one of our Pioneers this week because, well, the team is freaking awesome but also because of their community impact. They love Philadelphia, like, I mean love. Read on to see for yourself!
What sets your Solar States apart from other solar installers?
One of the most exciting things, I think for everyone on the Solar States team, is [our partnership with] YouthBuild. YouthBuild is a charter school for at-risk youth that have already dropped out of high school and they kind of go back for a second-chance with a more specific idea of a trade or a sector they would want to work in. We provide free training for installs and even sales. When the interns that we have this summer graduate in August, they’re going to be part of our team if they complete the training and basically prove themselves as good employees. That's one of the most exciting things that I think sets us apart.
We're really open to creating partnerships with anyone. It's actually part of our structure in order to encourage more solar in Philadelphia.
We have a partnership with The Energy Co-Op. Together, our goal is to install 50 new solar arrays in the Philadelphia area. To do this, we need to enroll 1000 member households. That is 20 Solar Leaders in order to support each new solar array. When this is accomplished, we will add 250,000 kWh of solar electricity to our grid! The Solar Leader product costs a little bit more expensive -- it's about 10.49 cents/ kWh which is a fixed rate (PECO's is always fluctuating). Thanks to Solar Leaders’ contributions, the solar renewable energy credits are bought - at a higher than market value- from homeowners that go solar. It’s cool because it provides an opportunity for renters, or people who are not ready to go solar for one reason or another, to support local solar projects. It’s one of our solutions to the challenge presented by the little legislation that financially incentivizes solar in Pennsylvania right now.
The Sunshine Grant is no longer around, unfortunately, and we're hoping with the with the change of leadership that there might be more incentives on a federal or state level. But we're not going to rely on that, so [the Solar Leader Product] is kind of another way that, as a B Corp, we’re using business profit to take matters into our own hands and to make change in our community.
Another thing that sets us apart is that we are not trying to expand to different areas; in fact, we are actually trying to condense. So right now we do service in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and parts of New York. The more solar we can create in Philadelphia, the less that will have to obviously not rely on non-renewables but also [create more green collar] jobs.
How was the B Corp certification helped Solar States?
It's a stamp of approval, I think. It helped for me to understand what separates a triple bottom business from other for-profits and corporations. It helps to understand that there are guidelines that have been fulfilled; there are qualifications that we have to achieve, metrics by which companies can monitor their practices by. From the other perspective, it gives consumers a simpler way to judge which corporations they choose to support.
Personally, I was pretty selective with what company I wanted to work for. I got offered a lot of nonprofit positions, and I felt pretty good about that, but I felt okay working for Solar States because they were B Corp; because they were a Sustainable Business Network member; because they put their profits back into the local economy; and because they’re remaining socially and environmentally just throughout the whole profit-making process. I definitely feel that if more people knew about B Corp—like exactly what it is and what it meant--it can only get better from here.
How can it help other businesses in the energy service industry?
I think it's the same thing where it's just an opportunity for businesses prove to themselves and to their employees, as well as clients and customers, that the practices that they’re using don’t ignore any concerns over local environmental and social justice.
It's one thing to talk about it and another thing to act. So I think that it’s an ‘easier said than done’ kind of thing. The B Corp certification proves that they've already done this and continue to use these practices.
You guys have been doing some really fun events… any cool ones coming up?
Yes! On August 17th, we’re doing a Solar Bike Tour which starts at 10am (meeting outside of Crane Arts- 1400 N. American St) and ending around 2pm with a happy hour at Standard Tap (where we have a solar array)!
Our Solar Party on August 21st from 5p-10p is a “Green Carpet Event” to chat and mingle and celebrate the end of the summer. Come view our solar array and beautiful city skyline atop Crane Arts!
Solar Salutations is a yoga class on August 28 at Dhyana. Honeygrow will give us smoothies! Then another class on September 4 at Crane Arts.
How would you describe B Corps in 3 words?
Can I just say Stamp of Approval?
Where’s your favorite spot in Philly?
It used to be hanging out on the banks of the Schuylkill river by the Art Museum. I like watching the sunsets there.
Philly treat of choice?
Anything from Blackbird Pizzeria.
Ashley and the Solar States team are silly but they're so incredibly dedicated to the solar industry here in Philadelphia. Make sure you follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and go to their events (above)!
Stay tuned this week for our interview with Greg Aloia from our other Service B Corp Pioneer, Abacus Wealth Partners!