Rural communities in Pennsylvania, such as Union County, have a historical and political reliance on traditional fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Solar energy, an alternative energy source, is a renewable form of energy that is environmentally beneficial to the community, localizes energy production and provides one with energy independence from primarily relying on grid-provided electricity. Raising awareness around the potential of solar energy in Union County requires an understanding of the historical view of energy and collection of data on current perspectives around solar to determine the most effective way to communicate its benefits. The path to solar energy looks different for everyone, with residents of Union County facing barriers unique to their state, neighborhood or home. Through survey and interviews, personal challenges and journeys are collected to analyze what tools residents and businesses need to participate in solar energy. Therefore, it is not a sudden switch to solar energy that should be sought after, but an understanding of energy consumption, through conservation practices, with the installation of a solar energy system after these practices have been incorporated. Public awareness materials, including a digital infographic and social media posts, as well as physical double-sided version of the infographic that communicate the general benefits, steps to install solar and resources were created for the Union County Department of Planning and Economic Development.
This fellowship project was funded by Bucknell Center for Sustainability & the Environment’s William Corrington Renewable Energy Fund. Research was carried out under the mentorship of Dr. Shaunna Barnhart, Place Studies Program director. The project was completed in partnership with the Union County Department of Planning and Economic Development.
solar energy, renewable energy, energy transition
Ⓒ 2022. Bucknell Center for Sustainability & the Environment
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