By Constance Thompson
September 24, 2021
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the next installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment features industry leaders and topics related to accelerating an equitable and just transition to a renewable energy economy. In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, our September features highlight how three Hispanic-owned Accelerate member companies are thriving in the renewable energy sector.
Today, we are featuring Clearloop, an Accelerate member company founded by three Tennesseans who want to make sure that the innovation and benefits of renewable energy reach all communities around our country equally, starting with the communities that have a history of getting left behind. The following is a Q&A with Clearloop co-Founder Laura Zapata and Constance Thompson, ACORE’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs.
What inspired you to start your company?
Clearloop started as an idea that morphed into a company. In the early days–even before we had decided on the name–we were testing out the theory that more companies need to invest in cleaning up the electricity grid so those dollars can be spent boosting the economies in Middle America where access to clean energy is limited. For me, as one of three founders, this company was inspired by the desire to bring clarity to a large problem with a simple solution. We wanted companies to take climate action in the same community that welcomed my family as immigrants, and kept me going when things felt dark and the path was unclear.
Tell us about Clearloop ?
Clearloop is a cleantech startup that partners with companies of all sizes to help them cut (or reclaim) their carbon footprint, clean up the grid, and expand access to clean energy by building new solar projects in American communities otherwise getting left behind. We’re pioneering putting a carbon value on the construction of new solar capacity that’s measured in watts, not watt-hours, with a new financing structure that allows a wider array of companies to participate, while also being intentional about the communities where we’re investing to achieve an equitable clean energy future. We recently broke ground on our first utility-connected solar project in Jackson, Tennessee. As we grow, Clearloop will be focusing on Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta as we tackle both dirty grids and economically distressed communities with our solar projects.
What challenges do you face? Why?
One of the biggest challenges for us, as a relatively new entrant in the clean energy and carbon markets, is earning credibility with industry leaders who may be used to doing things a certain way. Clearloop is challenging some of the traditional ways in which new solar developments have been financed, and bringing attention to new geographies and equity, to reinsert carbon emissions reductions into the corporate procurement conversation. I’m a true believer that our vantage point from the middle of the country, and our lived experiences as founders from very different backgrounds, has brought into focus why we need more creative solutions to help clean up the grid. We’ve been encouraged by corporate partners like Intuit and Vista Equity Partners, as well as brands like Dropps and Hello Bello, who’ve invested in reclaiming their carbon footprint by helping us build our very first solar project. We’ve also had the great fortune of finding like-minded organizations like ACORE who recognize the value of bringing diverse perspectives to cleaning up the grid and have actually built a program like Accelerate to ensure we have a seat at the table.
How can potential partners do business with you?
We’re proving that you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company with the ability to sign a power purchase agreement to help build brand new solar projects. Even big companies that have led the way in renewable energy procurement are now faced with the reality that the biggest chunk of their carbon footprint is in Scope 3, their value chain, where they may have little control over reduction strategies or where reductions may not be immediate. That is where Clearloop comes in– we’re a new tool for businesses big and small to take tangible climate action right now and help us decarbonize the grid in the places that need it the most. We need more creative ways to help tackle the climate crisis in a way that invests in the places where that dollar creates more economic opportunity and social mobility for the communities where we’re building. We’re firm believers that the environmental, health, and economic benefits of clean energy investments should reach all corners of our country and we’re looking for partners who are ready to take action.
To learn more about Clearloop, visit https://clearloop.us/.