GW Alum Puts a Face to the Energy Industry

turbines
Wind turbines off the coast of Brock Island. Photo by Molly A. Seltzer.
September 12, 2017

By Emma Krasnopoler

 

Molly A. Seltzer, Class of 2015, is on a personal journey to learn about the people and companies that provide energy to America. Inspired to convey the experiences of the people behind the energy industry to everyday Americans, Seltzer combined her interests of photojournalism and blogging to create a unique project entitled, “Electric America.” Through her project, Seltzer has covered many energy-related topics, including GW’s recent acquisition of solar energy through the Capital Partners Solar Project. “The George Washington University (GW) is powered by 50% solar, and as a GW alumni and Fellow with the university, Duke Energy Renewables agreed to show me where their energy comes from,” writes Seltzer. Learn more about the Capital Partners Solar Project here.

 

Seltzer first got her start in sustainable storytelling at GW, where she studied International Affairs at the Elliott School. After taking a class on climate change policy, Seltzer found her passion. “I was taken aback by both the role of policy and how it can enable change and impact people’s behavior, but also by the fact that climate change is such an underrepresented topic in academia and on the minds of everyday people,” she said. A turning point in her career was a study-abroad internship at a solar firm in Seville, Spain, where she was able to tour a solar plant and see the industry up close. This experience laid the foundation she would eventually build upon in creating Electric America. Thanks to her alumni status, Seltzer’s project is funded by the Shapiro Traveling Fellowship, a GW grant open to alumni.

 

Seltzer’s goal of the project is to incite positive change in the world related to the energy industry and climate change. “The ultimate goal is to provide a greater understanding of the diversity of natural energy resources in the United States [and] hold leaders accountable for providing the type of energy consumers want- a diverse, clean, and reliable energy mix,” Seltzer writes on her website.

 

Seltzer hopes Electric America will inspire people to take a second look at the changing industry. From lighting our streets to heating our homes, the energy industry and the people who run it impact our lives in a fundamental way. Since most people only hear the side of the industry that is represented by politicians and the media, Seltzer aims to show a different side through candid photos and interactions with real energy-sector employees. For example, Seltzer visited the first commercial offshore wind farm in the US off the shore of Block Island, Rhode Island. The island used to run on diesel fuel, but now benefits from modernized infrastructure and cleaner, more reliable wind energy. Residents of the island told Seltzer they are happy with the transition. Seltzer reflects that, “[People] just want wellness for their families, their homes, and their towns.”

 

When asked what the longterm goal of Electric America was, Seltzer excitedly spoke of potentially taking the project into the nonprofit sector. She says though the project is still in its first phase of bringing awareness to the public about where their power comes from, she ultimately wants to be a player in the “transition to a clean energy economy [and] empower energy consumers to know and choose their power source.”

 

Electric America has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, and is a partner of the World Resources Institute and Global Power Watch. You can follow the project on Instagram and Facebook, and see more here.