At DEP, we truly believe that our partners are key to making Montgomery County as green as it can be. This series profiles a local leader, advocate, or trailblazer who is dedicated to improving energy efficiency and helping the county realize its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035. Find out more about them in their own words.
This installment highlights Kimberly Armstrong, Maryland Director for Solar United Neighbors
My Green Montgomery: When did you first become interested in energy and climate change?
Kimberly: I became interested in going green, sustainability, and clean energy in 2014 after returning back to college and taking business and construction classes where I learned about LEED and going green and the effects of climate change. Furthermore, I started to connect the dots and realized that pollution was a main factor in our communities and was a direct connection to health disparities in the African American communities and how many people are suffering from respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD.
MGM: What do you find most interesting about energy issues in Montgomery County?
Kimberly: What I find interesting is not so much the energy issues but wow progressive Montgomery county is and I’m very impressed by the assistance that the county provides and the information versus other parts of Maryland. Montgomery County really takes it seriously and are building it into policies that hopefully will make it sustainable and accessible for all residents.
MGM: Can you describe what you do in your role at Solar United Neighbors?
Kimberly: I’m the Program Director with Solar United Neighbors a non-profit that focuses on making solar accessible and affordable to everyone. We provide free services that will assist residents who are interested in solar via our Co-op and we partner with such organizations like MGM.
MGM: How does your day-to-day work impact residents in Montgomery County?
Kimberly: My day to day work is very informative because I have the opportunity to work with and speak to an “ Array” of people in the county with all types of background which make our conversion meaningful. Many of the residents are helpful and provide me with insight and information that is useful to other residents in the county or co-op. This is what makes my day-to-day never a dull moment.
Also, Montgomery County is setting the green standard for clean energy and they are proving that it can be done statewide if there is the political will and commitment from the residents.
MGM: What has been your proudest moment in your position?
Kimberly: My proudest moment would be starting a new position in the middle of a pandemic and in the middle of the SUN co-op! On a serious note I’m proud that being on the job for less than 2 months I’ve had the opportunity to host or co-host more 10-webinars, info sessions or happy hours which has caused our co-op to grow about 20-30%. Another accomplishment I’m proud of is working with one of my colleagues on getting the Attorney General’s Office to sign on to our Federal Energy Regulation Council (FERC) Campaign to stop them from taking away states’ right for net metering.
MGM: What projects are you working on now that we should be watching?
Kimberly: I’m really focused on growing the Montgomery County Co-op membership which closes on August. 31 2020. Our goal is to have 200 + members by the end of August, we are halfway way there.
Something you should be looking for in Montgomery County is a community event before the end of the summer that will be in accordance with COVID-19 rules and it will not be virtual! Also, I will be working really hard to find a way to expand the co-op and provide access to solar to low and moderate income families and also doing more outreach to communities of color.
MGM: What’s your favorite way to save energy in your home or workplace?
Kimberly: At home I had an energy audit and made all the energy efficacy upgrades to my home before I got solar. I have a 4kW solar system and I’m very careful about leaving lights on and a constant reminder to my 21 year old daughter to “TURN the LIGHTS OFF.” Another way is to do laundry when the demand is low and usually that is at night.
MGM: Outside of your role, what other activities or interests do you have? [Can be or not be environmentally related…]
Kimberly: I’m a board member of the Community Research Advisory Council, This is a board made up of community residents in Baltimore city that advise Johns Hopkins researchers on how to effectively community and be more transparent about research in the community.