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People Power: Running on Sunshine

A socially conscious teenager helps a Colorado shelter go solar

In 2008, Dustin Michels was struggling to balance two passions: helping animals and protecting the environment. His bar mitzvah was coming up, and the Boulder, Colo., middle-schooler was mulling over what kind of community service he wanted to perform to mark his coming of age in the Jewish religion.

He knew one thing: He wanted to do something big.

In the end, Dustin didn’t have to choose between the two causes. An enthusiastic environmentalist, Dustin is particularly interested in the benefits of solar energy—his family had just installed solar photovoltaic panels on their roof, and he was immediately intrigued by the concept. He realized that he could help animals and protect the environment by getting a solar panel system donated to the local animal shelter, the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

Solar power would mean less energy from the grid, lower utility bills for the shelter, and more money for the animals. “I chose the humane society because it’s a cool place, a good cause, and good people,” says Dustin.

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