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Class of 2020
Environmental science and policy major
During the fall semester of my junior year, I was sitting as one of four students on Smith College’s Committee on Sustainability when the college announced that they were participating in the first collaborative purchase of New England–generated solar power by higher ed institutions. Smith joined Amherst, Bowdoin, Hampshire and Williams colleges to create a partnership with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, a leading clean energy company, to construct a utility-scale solar power facility in Farmington, Maine. I was so excited to hear of my college’s commitment to the environment, but as a Maine resident and someone who cares very deeply for rural industries and rural health, I also had a lot of questions. CEEDS (The Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability) helped me design my own special studies project to investigate my questions.
“I was so excited to hear of my college’s commitment to the environment, but as a Maine resident and someone who cares very deeply for rural industries and rural health, I also had a lot of questions. I designed my own special studies project to investigate my questions.”
For my project, I engaged and interviewed various stakeholders in the project, ranging from local school teachers to the major land leaser. Throughout the informational interviews, I was able to identify five areas of interest in relation to the Farmington Solar Project. To best tackle the different, yet equally interesting, areas of focus, I designed a collaborative internship for the five involved colleges. I created the job description and passed it along to the sustainability directors at the other institutions, and during summer 2019 I worked with a student from Amherst College and a student from Williams College to figure out the economic, environmental and political factors that led to the creation of the Farmington Solar Project and to determine the local landscape of impact of utility-scale solar energy development. In general, we researched what could be observed about the relationships between renewable energy projects and the communities they impact from the lens of the Farmington Solar project.