Solar Power in CT

Connecticut Green Bank Makes Active Effort to Boost Solar in Communities of Color

Connecticut Green Bank Makes Active Effort to Boost Solar in Communities of Color 150 150 Joshua Jones

CT is changing the trend of disparity regarding solar adoption in communities of color.

According to figures from Connecticut Green Bank, adoption of solar in communities of color is on the rise. This is due to Green Banks successful efforts to make solar energy more affordable for homeowners in these communities, as well as low-to-moderate income (LMI) households by actively engaging these traditionally unserved communities.

In the past seven years, the number of rooftop solar installations has increased by more than 50% per year. However, in many states, communities of color haven’t joined in this rapid adoption of solar. A 2019 Tufts University study found that majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have installed less rooftop solar compared to neighborhoods with No Majority race by 61% and 45%, respectively, while majority White neighborhoods installed 37% more.

Addressing the Problem

Green Bank launched the Residential Solar Investment Program (RSIP) in 2012 to make rooftop solar installations more affordable. This provided Connecticut homeowners with rebates and performance-based incentives (PBI) meant to lower the initial out-of-pocket costs. RSIP has helped over 30,000 households add solar to date. They continue to approach the current 300 megawatt program allocation. The Green Bank and it’s Board of Directors addressed an observed income disparity in solar adoption in 2015. They added special incentives for low and moderate income households to the residential solar program. Thus quickly accelerated solar adoption in low and moderate income communities.

Recent studies show that this has also been very successful in reaching communities of color in the state. Today, on a per owner-occupied household basis, there are 86 percent more RSIP installations in majority Black neighborhoods, 18 percent more in majority Hispanic neighborhoods, and 20 percent more in No Majority race neighborhoods as compared to majority White neighborhoods.

Solar For All

The Green Bank’s Solar for All program has been a primary driver of democratic access to solar energy in the state. The organization released a request for proposals seeking contractors to help reach under served markets in 2015. This RFP resulted in their partnership with solar provider PosiGen and the creation of the Solar for All program.

Solar for All utilizes Green Bank’s elevated incentive to offer LMI homeowners a solar lease along with energy efficiency upgrades. The upgrades are customized for each home and include air sealing, LED light bulbs, pipe wrap and programmable thermostats. These are in addition to the measures installed as part of the state’s Home Energy Solutions (HES) program. PosiGen’s Solar for All program has been even more successful than the overall RSIP program in reaching communities of color. PosiGen has more projects per home in majority Black (1275%), Hispanic (408%) and No Majority race (427%) neighborhoods than in majority White neighborhoods.

“In 2015, when we realized that all homeowners in Connecticut did not have access to the benefits of the clean energy economy, our mission compelled us to act. This study confirms that the response to our programs in under served communities of color has been even more positive than we anticipated,” said Bryan Garcia, president and CEO of Green Bank. “Today, there are still significant opportunities for residential solar growth in owner-occupied homes across the state, and we are committed to working with partners like PosiGen to continue to make green energy available and affordable for all Connecticut neighborhoods.”

Green Bank to Boost Solar in Communities of Color

Solar Array at Middletown water treatment planr

Greenskies Installs Solar Array for Middletown Water Treatment Facility

Greenskies Installs Solar Array for Middletown Water Treatment Facility 960 540 Joshua Jones

Middletown calling it a victory for the local economy and environment!

City officials praised the installation of a 714-panel solar array to help off-set the effects of the “single largest energy hog in the city” – its water treatment plant. These solar panels, installed June 2018 by Greenskies Renewable Energy, are projected to save the city 280,000 kilowatts of electricity per year.

“This is an important project, especially now with people conserving more and more water, and the demand for water is trending downward. Without this project, we would eventually need to raise rates. It will produce clean water using less electricity from the grid, which, in turn, helps stabilize water rates we charge customers,” said Joe Fazzino, acting director of Middletown Water & Sewer.

The solar array, installed at the Higby water treatment plant on the Middletown line, are projected to power 75-85 percent of facility’s electricity usage.

Many were delighted that the city enlisted a Middletown-based small business to complete the project including State Sennator Len Suzio and R-Meriden. Greenskies, which paid for the system and installation, are selling the power produced to Middletown at a discounted rate over the next 20 years, as per their contract. This firm has also installed solar arrays on the roof of the city-owned R.M. Keating Historical Enterprise Park on Johnson Street where its office is based.

The project is estimated to save the city $9,00 annually in electricity costs, greatly reducing the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels. Emission rates are expected to be one tenth of the previous total output at the water treatment plant. This project, which had been in the making for about 6 years. It was started in late fall of 2017 and completed in the spring of 2018 according to the vice president of construction at Greenskies, John Beauton.

In Connecticut, as well as other parts of the northeast, peak solar months are July through September when the sun’s elevation is lower and there is less sunlight, mentioned Beauton. In the winter months, output is low due to the concentrated snowfall, particularly January and February, he added.

Jeff Hush, member of the city’s Clean Energy Task Force, represents low-income interests on the panel. Comfortable, Healthy, Energy Efficient and Renewable Middletown, dubbed CHEER, is a collaboration between the task force, North End Action Team, Home Energy Services, New England Conservation Services, Sunlight Solar and others which hopes to lessen the city’s dependence on fossil fuels. The task force is increasing it’s efforts to improve housing costs for low- and middle-income communities in Middletown, who carry an energy burden disproportionate to their household income.

“With the solar project, we are able to produce clean, potable water using less electricity from the grid,” said Acting Water and Sewer Director Joseph Fazzino. “This is a very important project, especially now with people conserving more and more water, the demand for water is trending downward. Without this project we would eventually need to raise rates, so this will help us stabilize our water rates. Nobody really likes to have their water rates going up.”

Greenskies solar array at Sprague water treatment plant

Greenskies Provides Solar Power for CT Wastewater Plant

Greenskies Provides Solar Power for CT Wastewater Plant 960 720 Joshua Jones

Greenskies Renewable Energy completes third project for Conn. towns

Greenskies Renewable Energy, a Clean Focus company, has completed it’s third photovoltaic project in Connecticut. The 137-kilowatt solar panel array will generate solar electricity for the Sprague wastewater treatment facility. The solar project is going to provide 80% of the power needed to operate the facility. It is located on aproperty adjecent to the facility. Greenskies designed and installed 378 Neo Solar Power PV panels with a fixed tilt ground mounted system. This new solar array is projected to offset 3.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide during it’s lifespan.

“Solar projects at municipal water treatment plants help local governments such as Sprague meet their sustainability and cost reduction goals,” said Catherine A. Osten, first selectman of Sprague. “I am excited that this project is complete and Greenskies has been a great partner in this project.”

Wastewater treatment plants tend to be among the largest consumers of electricity in a municipality. They comprise up to 40% of the total operating cost of the town. As much as 4% of all energy use in the United States goes to public drinking water and wastewater services, This is according to the United States EPA (LINK).

Greenskies has expanded its municipal solar portfolio into one of the largest in the Northeast.

As a partner for many Connecticut municipal solar projects, Greenskies currently operates solar installations for more than 1/3 of all the towns in Connecticut. In addition to the Sprague project, Greenskies also completed solar projects for Middletown and Ledyard’s wastewater treatment plants. Greenskies will own, operate and maintain the solar array under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

“We are pleased to help municipalities reduce electricity costs to meet budget goals and serve their constituents,” said Stanley Chin, president and CEO of Greenskies and Clean Focus Group. “[The company is] look forward to a long relationship with the town of Sprague over the lifetime of the project. We will provide the plant with leading-edge technology and service to help the project operate at peak performance and deliver maximum savings.”

Solar Power in Connecticut

Solar Power in Connecticut 150 150 Joshua Jones

We’re powered by Community

As many of our solar customers know, we’re passionate about our community. We’re lucky to be in Connecticut, a state that takes the challenges of climate change as seriously as we do. While other states have struggled to set goals for renewable energy, we lead the way.

Connecticut was the second state in the US to reach what’s called “grid parity”. Grid parity is when the cost of a renewable energy source reaches the price of electricity in the grid. Since Connecticut reached grid parity back in 2011, our state has continued to smash it’s green energy goals. Solar energy already powers more than 80 thousand homes here and only continues to grow!

 

Annual Solar Installations in CT

 

This is great news for consumers. Prices have fallen an incredible 47% in the last 5 years! Connecticut’s standards for solar incentives will be followed for years to come. Here are some other notable solar projects in the state that we’re excited about:

The Nod Hill brewery in Ridgefield, CT just finished a 300kw array for their roof!

Nod Hill Brewery

 

Soon, the town of Simsbury, CT will be installing a gigantic 26.4 megawatt solar farm. That will make Simsbury the home of the largest solar array in New England!

pv panel array

 

Are there any solar projects that you’re excited about? Tell us in the comments!