emPOWER Overtown

Overtown, Miami

Overtown, Miami has a long history of segregation, disinvestment, poverty, and homelessness. Source: Unknown

by Catherine McCandless (MUP ’19) and Naomi Woods (MDes ’19)

Our project proposes a comprehensive solution to some of Overtown, Miami’s most pressing challenges relating to the impacts of climate change. This solution involves the construction of either a single community solar array or a series of community solar installations in or near Overtown that would allow for low-income residents to subscribe to the system and receive energy credits on their monthly utility bill.

Community solar installations
Community solar installations help address the physical and financial barriers of going solar and provide residents, particularly renters, with the ability to choose local, clean electricity that can support economic development, environmental resiliency, and healthier communities. Source: SunShare

The community solar array would be connected to a microgrid to allow for resilient back-up electricity, which is crucial given that intense hurricanes will become more frequent as a result of climate change and low-income communities are often the last to have their power restored.

A microgrid has its own source of power generation in the form of a diesel generator, batteries, thermal, solar or wind so that they can disconnect from the larger main grid at any time and still provide power to those homes and institutions that are connected to it. When a microgrid is inserted into the system, it acts as part of the overall grid but can disconnect to operate autonomously and control the flow of electricity, powered by alternative sources of energy. This helps mitigate grid disturbances and keep systems operating even if the main grid goes down to ensure energy resiliency. Source: LG CNS

Additionally, the project would address rising temperatures in Miami and the consequent increase in electricity costs in Overtown; provide access to clean energy for Overtown residents; increase resilience of energy infrastructure for the general welfare of Overtown residents; promote community stability in Overtown through affordable and reliable energy; and empower Overtown residents through workforce development opportunities in solar.

effects of climate change
The effects of climate change will exacerbate the existing issues of inequality, discrimination, and gentrification that have persisted in Overtown for far too long. While the need for flood adaptation is certainly important, the most urgent impacts of climate change in Overtown are increasing temperatures, a lack of disaster preparedness, and inaccessibility to clean energy resources. Source: Unknown










This project is made possible through support from The Knight Foundation.