Atlanta, GA – Climate change is exacerbating more frequent and extreme heat waves, hurricanes, and other climate disasters, yet fossil fuels are still the go-to source of backup power during emergencies. A coalition of Atlanta-based partners has come together to make disaster response more sustainable in Georgia through the building of solar microgrid trailers that serve as mobile solar power stations to provide clean and portable power. These solar trailers, which can also be used for live events, are easily towed to where they are needed most to power cell phones, Wi-Fi, refrigeration, lighting, medical devices and other critical services.
A new solar trailer, powerful enough to charge an electric vehicle, was officially unveiled at the ninth annual Ray Day event on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. RayDay celebrates the life and legacy of Ray C. Anderson, an industrialist turned environmentalist and brings people together, encourages conversations and connections and spreads the word about sustainability. Following the event, the trailer will be staged with the North Georgia Disaster Response Ministry of The United Methodist Church to provide emergency clean power for their disaster response team and community relief hubs.
Each solar trailer is rapidly deployable and can be towed to where it is needed most. In between disasters, it can also help offset the use of traditional gas or diesel generators at local live events and festivals. “In addition to providing cleaner energy for communities in crisis, the mobile solar microgrid trailer is an outreach and education tool that can be used to promote and celebrate resilience,” said Jamie Swezey, Program Director at Footprint Project.
“In times of disaster, gaining access to a source of power is one of the most essential yet challenging parts of response and recovery,” said Roland Fernandes, Global Ministries’ chief executive. “Thanks to this partnership, responders in Georgia will be able to bring their own environmentally sustainable power source with them, providing vital emergency power without the environmental damage caused by traditional fossil fuels.”
Several Atlanta-based organizations came together to support this project. The Ray C. Anderson Foundation provided financial support. Cherry Street Energy donated the solar panels for the microgrid and is coordinating the trailer build with Footprint Project, who will also organize the deployment of the trailer. The North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will use the trailer for disaster response situations. The partners share a vision of promoting a more sustainable society and a just, equitable transition to net-zero emissions.
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ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS
Ray C. Anderson Foundation – www.raycandersonfoundation.org
The Ray C. Anderson Foundation is a Georgia-based, private family foundation that seeks to promote a sustainable society by supporting and funding educational and project-based initiatives that advance knowledge and innovation in sustainability.
Cherry Street Energy – www.cherrystreetenergy.com
Cherry Street builds, owns and operates next generation, high-performance energy infrastructure powering cities, businesses, and institutions with reliable, renewable energy. The Company’s easy-to-adopt platform allows large-scale customers to achieve the benefits of solar energy without the cost or complexity. Cherry Street sells power directly to the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, Emory University, and leading businesses across Georgia and is expanding across the Southeast.
Footprint Project – www.footprintproject.org
Footprint Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide cleaner energy for communities in crisis. They accomplish this by deploying mobile solar systems to support disaster relief and recovery operations, building resilience with communities that are disproportionately affected by climate disasters, and upcycling renewable energy components to keep them out of landfills.
North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church – www.ngumc.org
Comprised of nearly 700 churches, more than 1,400 clergy members, and approximately 320,000 lay members, The North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church seeks to fulfill the mission of our denomination: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
United Methodist Committee on Relief – www.umcmission.org/umcor
As the humanitarian relief and development arm of The United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Committee on Relief – UMCOR – assists United Methodists and churches to become involved globally in direct ministry to persons in need. UMCOR comes alongside those who suffer from natural or human-caused disasters – famine, hurricane, war, flood, fire or other events—to alleviate suffering and serve as a source of help and hope for the vulnerable.
Trailer Mural Art – The colorful mural on the trailer wrap was designed by Cienna Minniefield, an Atlanta-based Black artist. “The design was inspired by the Magnolia flower, which is commonly found in the South. The use of vibrant colors and abstract visual elements inspires joy, freedom and peace. The flower is a reminder of home, the lush evergreens of Atlanta, the city of trees,” said Cienna Minniefield. The words “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” refers to a phrase Ray Anderson always included in his speeches, referring to the individual power we all hold for creating a better world for tomorrow’s children. The phrase comes from a hymn written by Ina Mae Duley Ogdon. The use of the phrase on the trailer is both a nod to Ray’s legacy and the power of the sun in brightening lives as the trailer is used in service.