Flanked by local environmental activists and city officials Monday at Lopresti Park, Mayor Michelle Wu announced a new pilot program to increase solar panel usage in East Boston.
The city’s launch of the ‘Solarize Eastie’ pilot program aimed at increasing solar panel installation and onsite battery storage in the neighborhood will bring more renewable and affordable energy options to Eastie residents.
The city recently partnered with GreenRoots, a local environmental organization that has been waging a battle against Eversource’s planned substation in East Eagle Square, to bring the pilot program to Eastie. Through the partnership the city and GreenRoots will use a group buying model to reduce costs for Eastie residents by aggregating demand and securing a discounted price per watt.
“These partnerships embody our commitment to investing in environmental justice and energy democracy,” said Mayor Wu at Monday’s announcement. “I am grateful to GreenRoots and Mass Save for leadership for a Boston Green New Deal.”
For decades solar panels installed on homes have been a proven way to generate clean, renewable energy,, reduce energy costs, and increase energy resilience.
Wu said the Solarize Eastie program will offer a variety of payment support, including a 15 percent discount below the average cost of solar installation, up-front subsidies for income-eligible building owners, and no-cost options.
The city will work with GreenRoots throughout the year to increase access to affordable and renewable energy for Eastie residents while helping them reduce their energy cost burden.
“Environmental justice means we need to ask hard questions about who is asked to carry the burden and who receives the benefits,” said Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy and Open SpaceReverend Mariama White-Hammond. “These kinds of partnerships allow us to bring energy benefits to environmental justice communities while helping us achieve our collective goal of decarbonization.”
Eastie is already an Environmental Justice Community and hosts an international airport, three harbor tunnels, a major highway and is one of a handful of Boston neighborhoods that will be heavily impacted by climate change and sea level rise.
Wu said bringing renewable energy to more homes in Eastie may mitigate some of the environmental impacts and burdens the neighborhood has faced for decades.
Wu said the goal of Solarize Eastie is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing solar and battery storage adoption in Eastie and to bring the benefits to low- and moderate-income residents.
More than half of East Boston’s 45,000 residents are Latinx immigrants, and the neighborhood median income is $52,935. The City has selected ACE Solar and Resonant Energy to lead the installation process for Solarize Eastie. ACE Solar has been ranked as the top Residential Solar Contractor in Massachusetts for the fifth year in a row, and is among the top solar contractors in the country. Resonant Energy, based in Dorchester, specializes in bringing accessible solar options to communities with limited resources, affordable housing units, and nonprofit organizations throughout Massachusetts. ACE and Resonant Energy will offer their Solar Access Program, which allows low- and moderate-income residents to install solar without any FICO score requirement or any upfront or ongoing payment obligation.
“Solarize Eastie gives East Boston residents accessibility to make real choices in the way they power their homes and community,” said Director of Waterfront and Climate Initiatives, GreenRoots John Walkey. “GreenRoots is thrilled to partner with the City of Boston and ACE Solar to enhance energy justice in East Boston. For too long, immigrants and people of color have been left out of the solar economy and they must be centered in our energy democracy efforts.”
ACE Solar’s Colby Lawless said his company was excited and honored to be part of the pilot program here.
“We are eager to help East Boston adopt clean energy and, through the program and partnerships, provide accessible ways to do so,” he said. “Clean, affordable energy should be available to everyone and thanks to Solarize Eastie this is more of a much needed reality.”
Resonant Energy’s Kelsie Daniels-Jackson added, “The Solar Access Program is an important program for limited resource communities. It allows any homeowner, regardless of income or credit history, to install solar and see immediate on-bill savings without the burden of an additional bill from a typical third party financier.”
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