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Annual Women in NECA Round Table Connects Leading Ladies in San Francisco

With the final day of the annual NECA Convention and Trade Show coming to a close, exhibitors are packing up and the traffic on the trade show floor is winding down. Outside of the show floor there’s been a jam-packed schedule full of can’t-miss events for NECA members and industry leaders. One of these yearly events is the Women in NECA (WIN) round table, an opportunity for NECA’s leading ladies to meet face to face.

Since 2009, WIN has connected professional women in the electrical industry through networking and educational events. The organization encourages more women to explore careers in the electrical industry.

Energy security for everyone

This year’s sixth annual WIN Roundtable, met Monday, Oct. 5. Members listened to keynote speaker Michelle Lacourciere, executive director of the Sirona Cares Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 that’s working to end global energy poverty.

“Most people don’t realize the reality of energy poverty and how it affects a huge amount of the global population,” Lacourciere explained to the WIN audience. “1 in 5 people lack access to the most basic electricity. Our sustainable programs are giving people the power to create, use and market clean energy in their communities.”

In poor nations, such as Haiti, kerosene lanterns, candles or wood fires are often the only source of light and heat in homes off the grid. This type of fuel is not only expensive and difficult to gather, but the fumes can cause significant health problems.

Sirona Cares is brightening one community at a time by implementing Ti Soley Kits produced by Day & Night Solar in Illinois. Each 1.5-kilowatt solar charging station is set up in an accessible community area such as a school, clinic or store.

Children and Haiti use electricity from Ti Soley lanterns

Ti Soley Charging Station using Solar Panels

Children in Haiti use light from Ti Soley lantern

Up to 100 local families pay a small monthly fee to rent a battery that they can recharge as frequently as needed. The battery is used to run lights, charge cell phones and other devices, and each battery lasts up to 7 days. If properly maintained, the charging stations can last for up to 10 years.

“These kits take money out of the kerosene trade and put it back into the local community,” said Lacourciere. “For example, in Haiti a family can have unlimited access to recharging for around $6.25 a month. Some schools in Haiti are making $300 a month from the kits. Currently we have 24 charging stations in Haiti and more than 100 homes rely on our electricity.”

Sirona Cares (@SironaCares) not only provides the equipment for the kit and charging station, the organization also offers the training and tools to teach residents how to get their charging business started and keep it successful. Overall, the program is delivering a source of renewable energy, cutting indoor pollution and ultimately, adding jobs and increasing self sufficiency.

Following Lacourciere’s presentation the WIN Task Force lead a discussion, opening up the floor to a panel of industry executives and leaders, including WIN members Susan Ernst of Royal Electric Construction Corp., Michelle Carissimi of JMC Electric and Cindy Austin, Cascade Chapter Manager of NECA.

WIN welcomes members to Phoenix, where it will host the eighth annual leadership summit in April 2016.

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