When Mike Borkowski learned that he was the winner of the Illinois Solar Energy Association's (ISEA) 2017 Tesla Model X raffle, he and his wife and three kids were very excited to take their new electric vehicle on the road. But after the initial surprise wore off, he began to have second thoughts - the purpose of this raffle was to raise money to advance clean energy. Owning a Tesla would help his family reduce their fossil fuel usage, but what if they could make a bigger difference? Together with his family, Mike made the decision to invest in a clean energy future by donating a portion of his winnings back to ISEA, as well as to other environmental and renewable energy-focused nonprofits.
Mike is already a leader in the solar energy world as the Managing Member of Community Power Group (CPG). CPG is "dedicated to helping utilities, co-ops, municipalities, land owners, non-profits and other agricultural groups meet the increasing need for clean and cost-effective renewable energy solutions," according to their website.
The founders of the organization started working on renewable energy projects in 2010, Mike says. "Our mission was to develop, own and operate industrial scale solar farms. Today we have projects in seven states and recently launched a consulting practice to work with municipalities and non-profit organizations to help them evaluate their renewable energy options and the related financial benefits." Mike first became interested in clean energy options when his father tried to explain the haze and pollution he saw around the city near where he grew up, and the memory of this spurred him into action as an adult.
The coming weeks, months, and years will be important ones in the story of renewable energy, particularly in Illinois after the implementation of the Future Energy Jobs Act. CPG has already begun to make their mark – they have over fifty megawatts of community and distributed generation solar projects in process, many of which will be on underutilized land, for the benefit of nonprofit organizations and low-income communities, and will use trainees of the Illinois Job Training program. Mike considers this the "trifecta of renewable energy projects," as it makes good use of land, helps those in need, and provides the opportunity for training in an increasingly popular field. CPG hopes to continue this work in the future - their mission is "to develop projects that are right for communities and the environment," says Mike. Their team will continue to develop renewable energy assets and leverage their expertise to help organizations that might not have the resources to invest in renewable energy on their own.
Mike's decision to donate his raffle winnings back to ISEA and other clean energy-focused organizations reflects this mindset.
While a brand new Tesla Model X would be great, for an industry leader like Mike, it is important to support the continued growth of solar and other renewable energy sources. These donations will go towards advocating for strong renewable energy and environmental policies, educating the public, and ensuring a sustainable future.