Entrepreneurship in Rural America, EPA Innovation Programs & Community Solar

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Fast Company published an interesting story today about the “solopreneur” trend citing,”the latest survey by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, there were 55 million Americans—or 35% of the U.S. workforce—doing some form of freelance work this year.” Almost a fifth of these solopreneurs (defined by the Urban Dictionary) live in rural settings suggesting that independence, safety, and a high quality of outdoor life are high priorities for them. Are they distinct from “entrepreneurs”- yes, Entrepreneur says. But the scientific research is lacking in this area as ScienceDirect cites a paper that declares that rural entrepreneurs are “Type A personalities” and, “psychological traits do not seem to pose constraints on expansion of entrepreneurship in rural areas.” Psychology Today declares that Type A’s exhibit traits including, “hostility, impatience, difficulty expressing emotions, competitiveness, drive, perfectionism and an unhealthy dependence on external rewards such as wealth, status, or power” (here, take their test, rural entrepreneurs!) FC Entrepreneurs profiles Tara Young, a communications strategist with a MBA who lives outside Prairie Farm, Wisconsin (population 473) whose advice is, “Don’t get discouraged if people glaze over when you explain your job to them. As long as you love what you do, that’s what matters. “

The American Farm Bureau has an entrepreneur’s competition and it is showcased here. The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship offers community resources and e-Education. Not surprisingly, India has a template for what the US could undertake: job creation, skills upgrades, government matching funds, market development assistance, export market promotion and group insurance, among other programs. Whty can’t the US embrace these types of programs? With the chronic underemployment problem in the US and the Bureau of Labor Statistics “footnotes” on the absurdly low labor participation rate, John William’s ShadowStats currently pegs U6 unemployment at 23% !

Picture Credit: Pen Sherwood

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Picture Credit: Shadowstats.com

So, say you are committed to helping the environment and find the EPA on Twitter? IAI decided to investigate what the Environmental Protection Agency offers for innovation promotion:

Sadly, as the Flint, MI water travesty and a recent EPA Inspectors General report showed, the EPA has suffered from a “culture of complacency” over the past decade. So, rural entrepreneurs might be better served to find ways to participate locally in community-driven initiatives. In IAI’s backyard, Solaflect Energy installs award winning suspension photovoltaic  (or “PV”) trackers for single family use or in a community solar model.

To join the Solaflect Community Solar Park, purchase a Solaflect PV Tracker and have it installed at the Park. Your Green Mountain Power (GMP) bill will show a credit for 80 percent of the solar output from your tracker. The other 20 percent is allocated to the Solaflect Community Solar Park to cover the costs of providing hosting: land rent, taxes, insurance, and operation and maintenance of the Park. There is a 20-year hosting agreement to participate in the Park, with an option to extend beyond that time.

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Picture Credit: Solaflect Energy Community Solar

Of course, our local utility named Green Mountain Power needs to embrace the model of citizen energy producers (or “CEPs”) as our PV was delivering 100% of our production into their grid and GMP was delivering grid power with the 6 cents/kw markup to “rent” their distribution network. Why don’t we use what we produce in situ (Merriam Webster defines this as “in the natural position or site”) rather than pay the markup, I asked? To their credit, GMP has an extensive Innovative Power program here. Start by understanding core concepts like net metering. Also draw on resources such as the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) to inform yourself about state and local energy policies. You don’t have to be Type A to make a positive change !

 

 

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