This blog is part of our series spotlighting leaders in the pursuit and development of Responsible Renewables projects. This series is being hosted in collaboration with Schneider Electric and Korn Ferry. For a background on responsible renewables, we encourage you to start with the introductory blog, which explores the issues and opportunities.
In this installment of our responsible renewables spotlight series, we’ll focus on lighting the path to a cleaner future with Dunamis Clean Energy Partners. As a woman-owned, MBE-certified leader in the commercial and industrial lighting, charging, environmental, and horticultural industries, Dunamis specializes in creating energy cost savings for their customers.
The CEO of Dunamis, Natalie King, is a Detroit native who formerly practiced healthcare and corporate law. She eventually co-founded her first company, a solar integration firm, and served as its General Counsel. King’s primary focus in law school had been environmental law, and she even clerked for the US EPA. She’s always been passionate about environmental justice and clean energy and founding Dunamis in 2012 allowed King to fully realize that passion. We caught up with King to learn more about how Dunamis is shaping the clean energy industry.
What motivated you to prioritize responsible renewables and equitable practices from the beginning of your journey with Dunamis?
The vision that I have for EV charging and manufacturing has always been based around inclusivity and equity. I've always believed clean energy technology can be a real impetus for economic development and growth. Environmental sustainability is a solution to a problem that Black and Brown communities have — in these communities, there is a disproportionate impact of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental toxins, and pollution in the air and water.
The clean energy technology field is continuing to evolve. This industry is expansive, always growing, but still has many strides that need to be made, particularly with raising new opportunities for People of color (POC) and other communities. And because representation matters, it's very important for people who look like me, who think like me, to bring those opportunities to our communities. So, our communities will not only become healthier, but they also can benefit economically with new job opportunities that come with new knowledge and skillsets. You can already see the benefits in higher net-worth communities that are taking advantage of clean energy, and I want our communities to prosper from these opportunities as well. That’s the whole concept.
Beyond hiring local diverse talent, what are some of the other ways you partner with your community in Michigan?
I always had this vision of a company that would have the most brilliant Black and Brown Women-led engineering teams and management teams. That's exactly what I have now because we went into the community to ensure this representation.
We're also working with nonprofit communities inspiring interns to be a part of the transition. Most recently, we had an intern experience this summer with a tenth grader who is certain he's going to pursue a career in clean energy because of the things that he's learned from us and how to run a business. It’s really cool.
We partner with nonprofit community development corporations as platforms to not only implement EV charging deployment, but also to provide community engagement and education through and about the process. While there are many people in our communities that may be aware of electric vehicles, there is still at times a knowledge gap that we’re trying to close, in raising even greater awareness of these renewable energy assets, and the importance of accessibility for all.
With proper education, we can demystify that process, so that there can be a greater understanding of the multiple layers of renewable benefits — where the tax incentives and the supplemental funding can come from to buy EVs, as one example.
We go into the community and share how often the government will pay to outfit homes with the proper plug for charging, and also what that looks like if you reside in a multi-family dwelling but still want to drive an EV.
Further, we share the environmental impact on the communities, such as how it can help to impact and decrease GHG levels, carbon emissions, and more, just with a commute alone. The government funding that’s available for the EV process won’t always be there, and I want the communities we are a part of to take advantage of this before it’s gone, to better themselves and the environment that they live in.
And you've been doing this for so long in different phases from the first company you started to this one. How has your approach to sustainable actions changed over time? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
I see it as very integrated. Now I understand the importance of integrating the multiple areas of sustainability, so that we can all work through each steppingstone to really get to the level of carbon neutrality that so many corporations and government entities are striving towards right now.
When I first started, I was mostly learning. I knew it was important, but I didn't really understand the intricacies of why and how one thing might impact the other. There are opportunities and challenges with all clean energy deployment, and I had to learn how you integrate to make the most efficient solution for the person using the energy at the end of the day. So, it's really been a matriculation of understanding and knowledge about how we must work together. You know, sustainability is not a one trick pony.
Because of this perspective, and the challenges that we are currently facing amid climate change, my approach is becoming a little bit more aggressive - as I now have a clearer understanding of what our world is facing. I read so many studies about what’s going on in our world with respect to climate change, including the real-world impacts. To me, it’s obvious we have a ticking clock here, and within this green energy technology field, I feel that we all need to be very aggressive about how we're planning and implementing innovation at every end. We need to consider what the average citizen is going to be willing to incorporate as a new way of life into their daily lives in order for us to start to reverse the impacts of climate change now. And if we don't do that, or if we're not really serious and strategic about it, we’re going to see very unfortunate times in our world, I’m afraid. 2050 is too late – we need to start now.
And are you hopeful that we can make a difference in climate change?
I'm hopeful, but I'm concerned that lack of insight, political agendas, and misunderstanding will hold us back. This is another reason why our focus on education is so important because it's going to turn a light on in the minds of communities that wouldn't otherwise be thinking about this. I mean, many people are confronted every day with other challenges: how to pay the bills, daycare for the kids, getting to work, transportation, and feeding families amid rising food costs.
With all this happening every day, many people aren’t thinking about an electric car nor are they thinking about clean air or clean water. It’s truly just about trying to keep the lights on in any given day for their family. But those realities of what people are facing now are going to be tenfold if we don't deal with what is going on in the environment right now. And so, we have to get a collective mindset shift into what's really going on behind the scenes here in order for everyone to be part of the effective change that we're going to need. Everyone needs to be and can be an important part of reversing climate change.
"At Dunamis, we believe electric vehicles are for everyone."
It's clear that the Dunamis team not only understands but prioritizes the critical importance of clean energy, responsible renewables, and sustainable education. They continue to be a leader in the clean energy manufacturing industry.