How to Power a City
How to Power a City
stories from the front lines of the clean energy revolution
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 THe Story

How To Power A City is an independent documentary showing stories from the front lines of the clean energy revolution. From zeitgeist clean energy projects and early solar adopters, to investors trying to bolster local economies with clean energy, to environmental justice communities fighting to keep the lights on, How To Power A City showcases the people leading the way to our clean energy future. Set in the urban sprawls of New York City, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Detroit/Highland Park, and in communities throughout Puerto Rico (some living without power for months) How To Power A City is a behind-the-scenes exploration of everyday leadership and a look at how citizens are bringing clean energy into their communities. 

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Detroit and highland park

Residents of the city of Highland Park, located within Detroit's city limits, were left in the dark when the power company repossessed their streetlights as part of a settlement with the city over a $4 million overdue electric bill. The dark streets were compounded by a sense of utter disenfranchisement, and residents of Highland Park joined together to design and install solar-power streetlights and bring light back to their neighborhoods. Meanwhile, in surrounding Detroit, rebuilding and renovation are everywhere, and the city is enjoying a renaissance. Iconic, historical buildings are turning into high performers with solar and geothermal power, eco-districts flourish across the city, and residents add off-grid solar power in urban gardens.  


Atlantic City

On the sundrenched South Jersey coast lies a clean energy utopia, an industrial site that operates 24/7 and is 100% powered by wind and sun. Utilizing clean energy from a five-turbine wind farm to a giant solar carport, the Atlantic County Utility Authority is likely the world's only wastewater treatment plant powered by renewable energy. Tourists flock there, bringing their children to see it up close. Inspired by this success, a group of local fishermen decided to start their own wind farm. Fishermen's Energy was poised to become the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. — until Governor Chris Christie reneged on an agreement and blocked them from building it. New Jersey is one of the best locations on the Atlantic for offshore wind — with a new governor in 2018, will they fulfill this promise?


Las vegas

The City of Las Vegas became one of the first cities to sign onto a nationwide clean energy agreement. In December 2016, they became the first big city in the U.S. — and possibly the world — to use 100% renewable energy for city services. How did they achieve this milestone that is a goal for so many cities? Mayor Carolyn Goodman shares their motivations and the decade long journey, and a tour of two of NV Energy's power plants with acres of solar panels shows the payoff of a decade of commitment and investment.


Puerto Rico

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, it knocked down the power grid for the entire island — and revealed deep fissures in the utility system. The calamitous disaster put Puerto Rico in the world's eye as it struggles to rebuild an entire electric grid serving over 3.5 million people, and many are terrified as hurricane season approaches again. Will this small island, with a history of excessively high power costs, rebuild with solar? Can communities who have lived without electricity for months take charge of their own power supply? Combining the stories of longtime Puerto Rican environmental and solar power leaders, investors in solar, and humanitarian groups building off-grid solar generators — each trying to build a reliable, clean, and inclusive energy grid.


New York City

Can the biggest city in the U.S. run on100% renewable energy? New York is a nationally recognized leader in clean energy field — but how can a city of 8.5 million people provide all of its power from rooftops? As residents and city council members fight off dirty energy production in their neighborhoods, a variety of new clean energy options are becoming a reality for New Yorkers.


The Team


Melanie La Rosa

Producers/Field Producers:

Toni De Aztlan                                                                  Andrés Otero


Field Sound Recorder:

Stephen Koss

Aaron Benally

Sound Re-Recording:

Erich Rettermeyer

Post Sound:

Hummingbird Sound

Its a Juke Box


Yasmin Mistry

Production Assistants & Interns:

Aaron Benally

Adrian Korin

Irene Mercado 

Anthony Parker

Nicholas Ostrander

Gabriel Rivera

Natasha Tamate Weiss

UX Intern:

Irene Mercado





How To Power A City is an independent film relying on grants, donations, and product donations from like-minded supporters.

We deeply appreciate the support of everyone listed below for helping to get the film on screen.





Johanna Campos

Michael Allegretti & James Siqueira

Indra Arriaga

Olivia Ayes

Adam Aroian

Julian Paul Andrews

Karen Benezra

Eric Blood

Johnathan C Baer

Vanessa Boyce

Olivia Barr

Juergen Berkessel

Dino Benares

Mary Bunao

Kat Croft

Dori Cohen

Rachel Clapp

Karen Chang

Thomas Chew

Linda Classon

Leslie Dela Vega 

Erna Melanie DuPuis

Victoria Estevez

Yavuz Eren

Linda Fader

Jonathan Forsgren


Hannes Fehr

Christopher A  Fowler

Melody Fader

Linda Mascaro Gruber

Evan Graner

Mark Gillespie

Ben Greenberg

Rick Gottlieb

Thomas Hoffer

Katja Hirche

Rafael Infante

Denyse Ignacio

Max Joel

Michael Kuetemeyer

Kyle Kelley

Galina Karmaker

Brian Legg

Nicole LaRosa

Marcos Lanio

Domenica LaLima

Roena Lim

Mark & Laura La Rosa

Selena Ley

Victor Manibo

Susan Morrow

Lori Mark

Liane Montesa

Brad Masi 

Andy Mascaro

Thomas A. Mascaro

David Muccioli

Tamora Petitt

Anthony Parker

Irasema Rivera

Edward V Rankus

Susan Wozny & Corinne Rosen

Allan Robles

Kathy Rushforth & Alex Wolosz

Edwin Roberts

Gary Schwartz

Sara Schwartz

Gil Seltzer

Orly S

Emerson Soto

Katarina Spasic

Pamela Segger

Lisa Studier

Sam Shlomo Spaeth

Scott Seely

Zachary Timm

Shashwati Talukdar

Christina Tzouras

Joshua Trinidad

Joanna Tou

Cherie Tay

Thu Trinh

Bjørn Talbot

Rosa Urmaza

Tony Valenzuela

Sissy Van Dyke

Enie Vaisburd

Angela Michaels Warr

Jen-Mei Wu

Sandra Watt

Richard Woodruff

Mike Whelan

Polly Ann Wilson

Sheila Yusay

Richard Ynayan

Stan Yogi

Paul Ziek

Tina Zottoli