On June 29, over 250 San Diegans came together to celebrate and recognize the region’s progress toward its goal of 100 percent clean energy at the largest Energy Independence Day celebration the area has yet to experience.
This year’s event, hosted at Brian Malarkey's Farmer & the Seahorse restaurant in Torrey Pines, included complimentary sustainably-sourced food, local craft beer, cleantech organizations, nonprofit advocacy groups and a silent auction. It also featured two Cleantech Talks about community choice energy as well as solar power and energy storage.
“This was a celebration for all of San Diego, commemorating the entire community,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. “We brought together clients who are energy independent, nonprofit organizations who have advocated for a sustainable future, our partners who help us provide local, clean energy jobs and our elected officials who are advocating for policies to move us forward to 100 percent clean energy.”
The legacy behind this event began in 2014 when the San Diego County Board of Supervisors formally recognized Sullivan Solar Power for leading the solar energy revolution and proclaimed June 30 as "Sullivan Solar Power Day" in San Diego County. Since then, the company has annually brought together local community members, dignitaries, organizations and nonprofits to celebrate moving the San Diego region towards achieving energy independence.
There were new reasons to celebrate this year. Many local cities in the region have bold climate action plans that prioritize clean air, public transportation and renewable energy and a way forward that provides living wage opportunities for a local workforce. Last June, Solana Beach became the first operational community choice energy program in San Diego County and there is a greater coalition of cities that are exploring or moving forward with community choice energy. Energy Independence Day is a celebration of all this progress as well as an opportunity to bring together residents, community leaders, and industry experts to continue the collaboration and education, as there is still work to be done.
Attendees had the opportunity to learn about energy storage technologies during the solar and storage Cleantech Talk presented by two nationally certified energy practitioners. The community choice energy Cleantech Talk was presented by Emily Wier, environmental policy advisor for San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Matthew Vasilakis, the climate justice advocate and organizer for Climate Action Campaign. Throughout the celebration, guests also mingled with dozens of leading cleantech organizations and nonprofit groups including Panasonic Solar, CED Greentech San Diego, LG Solar, SolarEdge, SMA America, SanDiego350, Energy Loan Network, Everest Solar Systems and the Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego.
During the celebration, local dignitaries were honored for their support of advancing solar power and community choice energy in San Diego, investing in an economy that benefits the local workforce while reducing toxic emissions and stopping climate change in its tracks. Those honored included San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Solana Beach Councilmember Judy Henegauer, Assemblymember Todd Gloria and the City of San Diego’s Chief Sustainability Officer Cody Hooven.
Although Supervisor Fletcher was unable to accept his award in person, he accepted via video that played during the award portion of the event.
“We will continue to push, fight and lead to be sure we have good, clean energy an environment with over 270 days of sun per year — it’s good for our environment and our local workforce. We are rebuilding the middle class and a better planet,” said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “I’m grateful for Sullivan Solar Power for what you do, making our energy system more renewable, and your partnership - using good union work, rebuilding the middle class while also building a better planet.”
This year, the celebration also included a silent auction to benefit local nonprofit, Climate Action Campaign, whose mission is to stop climate change. The silent auction raised over $1,000 and proceeds are going toward the nonprofit’s efforts helping hold San Diego accountable to reach its goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035, among other issues.
“Securing energy independence is critical to protecting the people and places we love from the worst impacts of the climate crisis,” said Matthew Vasilakis, climate justice advocate and organizer for Climate Action Campaign. “With an equitable and sustainable community choice energy program, San Diego can develop local power sources and distribution systems, and protect and uplift communities most vulnerable to climate change.”
Next year’s Energy Independence Day celebration is slated for Saturday, June 27. To attend an upcoming educational solar experience, visit sdsolarexperience.org.