William Kamkwamba's ingenuity was inspired in part by his desire to stay up past his bedtime, which in rural Malawi where he grew up was just 7 p.m. when the sun went down.
Together, the Piedmont community is reading Kamkwamba's memoir, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, for the city's project.
In the book, Kamkwamba describes how, with scrap metal, bicycle and tractor parts, he built a windmill to light up his family's homestead so that even after dark he could keep reading science textbooks and so that he could dance to music on the radio without having to string together lines of cheap Chinese batteries.
In Piedmont, electricity seems easier to come by. Instead of building windmills, all kids here have to do to power up their computers and video game consoles is plug in or flip a switch. Like Kamkwamba's friend Gilbert whose house was serviced by a government power line because his father was the village chief, Piedmonters can usually just "touch the wall" to get lights.
But as all of California learned from the rolling blackouts that came with the energy crisis of 2000, new ideas are needed to keep the juice flowing.
What creative solutions for meeting the local electricity demand have you seen? Share your experiences and discoveries by posting a comment below.