In 1990, the electric company shut off my power for the first time. They did it because I simply couldn't afford to pay my electrical bill.
After working as a bus driver for over a decade, I had suffered an accident that put me on a partial disability pension -- and without a regular income. I sometimes had to make the tough choice between feeding my family, paying the mortgage, and paying the electric company.
You can probably guess which option I picked. But this meant that I've frequently lived in a house without power.
Last week, a team of people installed a set of brand new solar panels on my roof -- panels that cost next-to-nothing upfront. Panels that I will be able to pay off, over time, through savings on my monthly energy bill.
Now, I wake up every day and I just can't stop smiling. My home looks good. A major, monthly expense no longer keeps me up at night. That frees me up to be thinking about my kids and their futures -- about the future of my whole community.
Because, while I'm proud to be the first person on my block to have solar panels installed, I won't be the last. I know I am not the only one who has struggled to afford my electric bill.
But I also know that, thanks to steps that President Obama has taken in the past eight years, solar panels are now within reach for millions of people in this country. That's very exciting.
Join me. Be a solar pioneer in your community.