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Member spotlight: Joel Gates

Blog header Joel Member Spotlight-11
Joel Gates and his daughter, Sarah, volunteering to showcase their Chevy Bolt at Audubon's Raptor Weekend in September 2017. 

For Joel Gates, living sustainably is more than just greening his electricity, it is a way of life. A resident of Glocester Rhode Island, Joel has been a part of People’s Power & Light (PP&L) for 13 years. From greening his electricity with ground-mount solar panels and PP&L’s green power programs to driving an all-electric vehicle and advocating for clean energy in Rhode Island, he epitomizes what it means to be a PP&L member.  For these reasons, we are honoring Joel for his dedicated support as the 2018 Member Spotlight Awardee at our 16th Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 17th at the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel. Get your tickets at:



“I believe in the mission of PP&L, and want to see it grow and succeed,” says Gates, who lives on a 100-year old farm with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children. “It’s an organization I passionately believe in.”

 I believe in the mission of PP&L, and want to see it grow and succeed.

With over 50 acres of non-commercial farmland and forest land, Gates and his family are fully immersed in nature and are always thinking about their environmental impact. In fact, Gates’ keen sense of environmental awareness goes back to his childhood.

A lifelong passion

“My interest was piqued years ago when I was in my early teens, and my aunt and uncle gave me a subscription to National Wildlife. Since then, [the environment] has always been a passion of mine.”

Soon after becoming a PP&L member, Gates joined the Discount Heating Oil Service. A few years later, he switched from oil to electric heating. “It’s something that my wife and I didn’t have to think too hard about,” Gates says about making the switch to cleaner electricity.

In 2005 Gates joined PP&L's green power program, New England GreenStart program, later switching to the New England Wind program, greening his electricity with 100% New England wind. Taking one step further, Gates and his family also invested in a ground-mount solar array that provides the family with most of their electricity. Gates purchases the remaining electricity from the grid, and matches it with 100% local wind from PP&L.  

 This is the way of the future; we have to support, clean renewable energy.

“This is the way of the future; we have to support, clean renewable energy,” adds Gates, who also makes generous contributions to the New England Wind Fund, helping ensure PP&L can commit to funding more wind turbines for years to come.

Greening at home and on the road 

In addition to greening his electricity at home, Gates is also committed to greening his electricity on the road, which is why he decided to lease an all-electric vehicle (EV) through Drive Green with People’s Power & Light.

Joel Gates EVGates volunteering to showcase his Nissan LEAF at the Coventry wind turbine tour in November 2016.

“Back in 1964 my family bought a new car, and I remember my father saying that that was the last internal combustion engine car we were going to buy,” Gates adds with a laugh. “My father had this vision of battery electric cars long before EVs, and that’s always been in the back of my mind.” Naturally, when presented with the opportunity, it was a no-brainer for Gates to go with an all-electric vehicle.

Gates says the environmental benefits, like cutting harmful emissions and cleaning up air quality, are the best part of owning an electric car. Since he charges at home, where most of the electricity is sourced from his solar panels, Gates enjoys truly green, zero-emission driving.

Of course, as with all new technology, there is a learning curve. Driving an all-electric vehicle takes some getting used to and planning ahead. Despite common misconceptions about EV range, Joel says, “With the 2017 Chevy Bolt (which gets 238 miles of range) we have never even come close to running out,” Gates attests as an EV ambassador.  To learn more about Drive Green with People's Power and Light, check out our blog

I hope we get to 100% renewable in my lifetime. 

Carrying on his father’s forward-thinking spirit, Gates is optimistic about Rhode Island’s energy future. “I hope we get to 100% renewable in my lifetime.”  

Thanks to the unwavering commitment to members like Gates and his family, PP&L continues to engage in meaningful work to harness the power of consumers and ensure a more sustainable energy future for generations to come. We hope you will join us at the 16th Annual Meeting on May 17th, where we will honor Joel Gates with the Member Spotlight Award and gather energy sector professionals and friends to celebrate Gates and PP&L's work. 

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