Berkshire Eagle: Solar Access program a ‘game-changer’ – just ask this Adams homeowner

“Noyes owes his energy-saving success to being the first person to enroll in Solar Access. The year-old state-sponsored initiative is designed to make solar energy more affordable for middle- and low-income households…”

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Learn more about the Solar Access program: cetonline.org/solaraccess

Solar for Low to Middle Income Households

Rooftop solar is steadily growing in popularity throughout the country, but especially in Massachusetts. Due in part to decreasing costs, solar panels provide benefits to homeowners and renters alike. For homeowners, installing solar PV helps them save on their electricity bills and reduce their carbon emissions. Renters can buy into community solar programs that can help renters and those who are unable to get solar on their own homes.

Low to middle income (LMI) households are those that earn 80% or less of the area’s median income. LMI households represent 43% of the U.S. population and 70% of the potential solar customers in Massachusetts. However, there are still some barriers in place against LMI families in accessing solar. These barriers include high upfront cost, low credit scores, and/or renting, and solar programs and financing for these populations needs to be wider spread.

Currently, most of the solar customers in the United States are in the same demographic. The typical residential solar customer is middle to upper class, middle-aged, and usually male. A recent study found that the median income of households that install solar panels in some states was roughly $32,000 higher than the median household income in those states. Solar panels are attractive to this demographic because they also tend to be more environmentally minded, and may have the disposable income to pay upfront costs for solar panels or to buy into community solar programs.

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What’s the Deal with Strategic Electrification?

As action on climate change grows in urgency, some states have already begun promoting energy efficiency and carbon-free electricity as methods to address these environmental problems. Massachusetts, for examples, offers Mass Save, an energy efficiency initiative focused on empowering residents, businesses, and communities to gain access to energy efficient upgrades. While these upgrades are important, according to the National Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP),  strategic electrification needs to be incorporated to fully meet carbon reduction goals.

Photo credit: Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships

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Solar Access Ribbon Cutting

This past Monday, we celebrated the installation of a Solar Access system with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and UMassFive Credit Union at Paulina Alenkina’s home in Amherst, MA. Solar Access is a pilot program that provides access to renewable energy and affordable heating and cooling technology to middle income homeowners in Massachusetts. This program combines solar electric and air source heat pump incentives with a state-sponsored loan to finance both technologies.

From left to right, Gabrielle Stebbins and Richard Faesy from Energy Futures Group; Steve Girard, Owner, Girard Heating & Cooling; Stephen Pike, CEO, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center; Aaron Simms, Co-Owner of SunBug Solar; Richard Kump, President & CEO of UMassFive Credit Union; Paulina Alenkina; John Majercak, President, Center for EcoTechnology.

Paulina’s home is one of the 100 proposed projects under the Solar Access pilot program. Many other programs throughout the state focused on expanding renewable energy tend to leave out middle income homeowners; and there are many programs that only pay for a portion of solar or air source heat pump technologies. Solar Access provides affordable, renewable energy to those who may not be able to purchase it, and participants will spend less than they do now.

“Participating was a no-brainer,” homeowner Paulina Alenkina said. “My family and I are saving on my energy bills and getting clean energy all at the same time.” Paulina, a CET employee, is one of five homeowners expected to see systems come online this month. 

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Press Release: State, Local Officials Cut Ribbon on Solar Access Clean Energy System for Amherst Homeowner

            10/15/2018

CONTACT:
Emily Gaylord, Center for EcoTechnology
413.687.2132 (cell) | 413.586.7350 ext. 236
emily.gaylord@cetonline.org
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   ­

State, Local Officials Cut Ribbon on Clean Energy System for Amherst Homeowner

 Solar, renewable heating system funded by state program for low-to moderate income residents

Amherst, Mass., October 15, 2018 – State officials from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center today joined representatives from the Center for EcoTechnology and UMass Five Credit Union to celebrate the recent completion of a solar and renewable heating system for a homeowner in Amherst. Paulina Alenkina, a homeowner in Amherst, flipped the switch on her home’s new renewable-powered heating system as part of Solar Access, a state-supported program for homeowners installing solar panels with heat pump technology. The program is funded through the state’s Affordable Clean Residential Energy Program, sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as part of the Baker administration’s $15 million Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy initiative.

Solar Access is a time-limited pilot program for middle-income homeowners in Massachusetts. There are many programs that offer financial help to pay for a portion of the cost of solar or a cold climate air source heat pump. This program, available to only 100 homeowners, combines solar electric and air source heat pump incentives with a state-sponsored loan to fully finance both technologies. CET, a local non-profit, has partnered with SunBug Solar and Girard Heating and Air Conditioning to bring affordable, renewable energy to those who may not readily be able to purchase this technology. Participants in the program enroll in a UMassFive Credit Union loan and pay less than they spend now on energy costs. To participate, a family of four would need to fall in the income range of $68,289.01 – $91,052.00. Participants can call CET with income-related questions. Alenkina, a CET employee, was one of the first homeowners to sign up. Five more projects will come online this month.

“Participating was a no-brainer,” said homeowner Paulina Alenkina. “My family and I are saving on my energy bills and getting clean energy all at the same time.”

Solar Access is truly a community effort, and is supported by the MassCEC and the DOER.

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