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RELEASE: Sierra Club and Center for American Progress Premiere Video Series on Bringing Solar Power to Rural India

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Contact: Chelsea Kiene
Phone: 202.478.5328
Email: ckiene@americanprogress.org

Google Glass used to provide first-person view of solar’s impact ‘beyond the grid.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress, or CAP, launched the world premiere of their video series, “Harnessing the Sun to Keep the Lights on in India.” The series documents the health, economic, and environmental benefits to local communities living in Uttar Pradesh, India, a rural, low-income, off-the-electric-grid region that is rapidly becoming a hotbed of solar activity. The film provides a firsthand look at the companies seeking to make good on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to provide solar for all citizens by 2019.

“Hundreds of millions of low-income, rural Indians have been suffering from energy poverty for decades. With little access to reliable energy, they’re depending on dirty fossil fuels like kerosene to light their homes and that has serious health effects,” said Justin Guay, associate director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Program. “Solar power is the key to ending energy poverty.”

This past spring, Guay traveled to Uttar Pradesh with Vrinda Manglik, associate campaign representative for the Sierra Club, and Andrew Satter, Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. They spent a week visiting innovative companies such as Simpa Networks and OMC Power that deliver everything from LED lightbulbs to mobile-phone charging with the help of innovative pay-as-you-go solutions. They also visited villages and interviewed people living beyond the grid who are benefiting from companies that are expanding clean energy access.

Around the world, 1.4 billion people lack modern, reliable electricity—meaning that they are living in energy poverty—including approximately 400 million people in India alone. Those who do have power suffer from chronic unreliability issues, as well as pollution from coal-fired power plants that kills more than 100,000 people every year. But innovative companies and entrepreneurs are creating a booming market for distributed energy beyond the grid in India and providing a clean and affordable energy source that is improving the health and quality of life of many people.

“Energy poverty is a hurdle for economic mobility and improving the livelihoods of billions of people around the world. Energy is necessary for social, economic, and environmental progress. Electricity access allows for lighting into the evening hours, which can be used for studying or running a business. It is required to keep schools open and health centers running,” said Rebecca Lefton, Senior Policy Analyst at CAP.

Leading up to the world premiere of the video, the Sierra Club and CAP released a series of behind-the-scenes video clips of their week in India, filmed using Google Glass. The technology was used for translations from Hindi to English, flight information, navigation, and filming parts of the video series.

You can view the behind-the-scenes Google Glass footage here and the video here.

Related resourceElectricity Without the Grid by Ben Bovarnick and Eliza Dach

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About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels, and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

About CAP

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just, and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values, and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” For more information, visit http://www.americanprogress.org

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi (immigration, race and ethnicity)
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org