Heroes

The energy company didn't handle 21st-century solar power well, so she paid $400 electric bills.

Her neighbors are paying $18 a month. Joyce Villegas has been paying almost $400 a month for over three years because of delays from Hawaiian Electric, the state's utility company.

The energy company didn't handle 21st-century solar power well, so she paid $400 electric bills.

Solar energy is finally becoming affordable. People love it. Especially in Hawaii.

In fact, The New York Times decided to do a whole story about what's going on in Hawaii.

But some people in Hawaii haven't been able to enjoy the benefits of solar power until recently.

This is Joyce Villegas, a resident of Hawaii who requested solar panels from Hawaiian Electric, the state's energy company, over three years ago.


All her neighbors, who get their electricity from solar power, pay much less per month than she does.

This might seem like the classic story of a big mean energy company screwing over a little old lady.

But in this case, Hawaiian Electric isn't a villain as much as it is a company afraid of change.

When Hawaiian Electric realized how many people were opting for solar, they realized two things:

  1. Their infrastructure and grid might not be able to handle the changes.
  2. And, more importantly, they were afraid that they'd stop making money altogether.

Hawaiian Electric put a stop to new solar installations until they could figure out a way to handle the energy traffic on the grid and a way to make a profit. That's fair, right? Any company needs to be able to profit to survive.

But ... they continued collecting nearly $400 per month in electric bills from people like Joyce to make up for the fact that solar-powered customers were paying so much less.

You see, Hawaii has the highest energy costs in the entire United States.

They also have the most sun. So they're at the forefront of solar technology.

Not only is solar energy more affordable, but some of the time, the people whose homes run on the solar grid are actually producing more energy than they use, which the utility company compensates them for.

Hawaii is paradise, especially if you have solar panels and your energy company pays you.

Electric utility grids were originally designed to send power one direction — from the power plant into homes and buildings.

But solar power on the grid moves both ways.

When you don't use your solar energy, you send it back to the grid. The utility company's job includes maintaining that energy grid.

Upgrading the grid to handle solar energy being sent back to the utility is expensive. If you don't upgrade it, it can degrade your infrastructure, causing brownouts, blackouts, and other problems.

And this is a legitimate reason for Hawaiian Electric to be concerned about the increasing popularity of solar panels.

But that's not exactly what had them stalling on Joyce's solar panel installations...

As more people rely on solar energy, the energy companies make less money.

Hypothetically, say everyone switches to solar. If no one is paying the utility company, if they aren't needed to produce electricity but just to maintain the grid, they go bankrupt. If they go bankrupt, no one manages and sustains the grid.

Hawaiian Electric took too much time to adapt and a court ruled that they had to start allowing solar installations again.

They've promised to get 90% of the backlog out immediately.

Joyce Villegas finally got her solar panels approved. They're installing them soon.

The future is now. And utility companies will have to adapt to a new business model.

We are moving to a future where utility companies become storage centers, taking the extra solar power we don't use and redistributing it at night. Energy companies won't be generators as much as distributors, and that will take some getting used to as we become our own generators of clean energy.

Read more in The New York Times story.

True

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

Acts of kindness and compassion are always inspiring. A veterinarian gave a different spin on the phrase "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".

The poor little pup in this video walked into this shelter with a history of being abused. He was so traumatized that he wasn't eating. The vet treating him wasn't sure what to do, so he decided to book a table for two: a the dog's place. It is not clear whether he got an official invite from the canine in question, but he felt pretty safe about showing up unannounced. He walked into the cage and sat down next to the dog. With his back up against the corner of his new (and hopefully temporary) domain, the rescue stared apprehensively at his human guest. The vet presented a dog dish with food and put it in front of the dog. The frightened pup just looked at the dish and made no attempt to eat. Then he broke out another dog dish identical to the one he just gave to his four-legged patient and started eating out of that bowl. And then came the turning point.


Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
Anne Owens and Luke Redito / Wikimedia Commons
True

When Madeline Swegle was a little girl growing up in Burke, VA, she loved watching the Blue Angels zip through the sky. Her family went to see the display every time it was in town, and it was her parents' encouragement to pursue her dreams that led her to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Before beginning the intense three-year training required to become a tactical air (TACAIR) pilot, Swegle had never been in an aircraft before; piloting was simply something she was interested in. It turns out she's got a gift for it—and not only is she skilled, she finds the "exhilaration to be unmatched."

"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet," Swegle said in a statement released by the Navy. "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people."

As Swegle's story shows, representation and equality matter. And the responsibility to advance equality for all people - especially Black Americans facing racism - falls on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governmental leadership. This clear need for equality is why P&G established the Take On Race Fund to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care, and make our communities more equitable. The funds raised go directly into organizations like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund, helping to level the playing field.

Keep Reading Show less

Do you know that guy who has never had an issue with his TV/internet provider? Neither do I. If you claim you have never had issues with your bill going up without warning, then you are either lying or you own the cable company. Jake Lawson apparently does not own a cable company, and was prepared to communicate his frustrations regarding his bill in a most creative way.

First off, Jake understands what everyone should realize. The customer service representative doesn't own the cable company either, so yelling at someone who is just trying to make a living like all of us is not the answer. Their job is hard enough as it is so give them a break. Jake gave them more than a break. He gave them a song.


Keep Reading Show less