Solarize Eastie will reduce costs for solar panel installation and the Community First Partnership will expand energy efficiency opportunities for environmental justice communities
(EAST BOSTON – Monday, May 9, 2022) – Today, Mayor Wu announced the launch of the Solarize Eastie pilot program to increase solar panel installation and onsite battery storage in East Boston. This partnership with GreenRoots, a local environmental organization, will bring the benefits of affordable renewable energy to residents in East Boston. This program uses a group buying model to reduce costs for residents by aggregating demand and securing a discounted price per watt. Alongside the launch of Solarize Eastie, Mayor Wu also announced that Boston has been selected for Mass Save’s Community First Partnership to provide cost-saving energy efficiency solutions to residents, small businesses, houses of worship, and local nonprofits primarily located in East Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. The two programs are supplemented by American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“These partnerships embody our commitment to investing in environmental justice and energy democracy,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I am grateful to GreenRoots and Mass Save for leadership for a Boston Green New Deal.”
Solarize Eastie works to bring East Boston residents the opportunity to generate clean, renewable energy for their homes, reduce energy costs, and increase energy resilience. This program offers a variety of payment support, including a 15% discount below the average cost of solar PV installation, up-front subsidies for income-eligible building owners, and no-cost options. Throughout the year, this partnership will work to increase access to affordable and renewable energy for East Boston residents, helping them reduce their energy cost burden. To ensure that the program addresses the needs of the East Boston community, the City has partnered with GreenRoots, a community-based organization dedicated to improving and enhancing the urban environment and public health in East Boston, Chelsea, and surrounding communities.
“Environmental justice means we need to ask hard questions about who is asked to carry the burden and who receives the benefits,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. “These kinds of partnerships allow us to bring energy benefits to environmental justice communities while helping us achieve our collective goal of decarbonization.”
The goal of Solarize Eastie is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing solar and battery storage adoption in East Boston 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 John Walkey, Director of Waterfront and Climate Initiatives, GreenRoots. “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 is honored to be a part of Solarize Eastie,” said Colby Lawless, ACE Solar. “We are eager to help East Boston adopt clean energy and, through the program and partnerships, provide accessible ways to do so. Clean, affordable energy should be available to everyone and thanks to Solarize Eastie this is more of a much needed reality.”
“The Solar Access Program is an important program for limited resource communities,” says Kelsie Daniels-Jackson, Resonant Energy. “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.”
The City of Boston has also been selected for the Mass Save Community First Partnership to bring energy cost savings to residents and small businesses in East Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. All four neighborhoods are considered environmental justice communities, historically experiencing disproportionately low Mass Save participation rates. With intentional and equitable outreach to these communities in the first year of the program — in particular for renters — the Community First Partnership will share energy efficiency opportunities with residents to provide emissions reductions, cost savings, and increased comfort. Specifically, participants will receive a no-cost energy assessment to identify energy-saving opportunities, such as insulation and heating and cooling equipment upgrades. Through this partnership, the Mass Save Sponsors will offer up to 100% off the cost of approved upgrades. Participants can also receive a variety of no-cost energy-saving products such as water-saving devices and programmable thermostats.
These two programs will simultaneously work to reduce energy use and transition residents from utilizing fossil fuels to renewable energy, while delivering immediate benefits to residents in energy-burdened neighborhoods. These partnerships expand upon the Wu administration’s commitment to energy democracy and becoming a Green New Deal city. Last month, Mayor Wu included transformative energy efficiency investments in her first proposed budget, such as $20 million for a nation-leading pilot for energy retrofits in triple deckers and other multi-family homes while maintaining affordability, as well as a $33 million investment of ARPA funding for upgrades to public housing units to improve air quality, energy efficiency and resident comfort at Boston Housing Authority developments Franklin Field, Ruth Barkley, Alice Taylor, Roslyn, and Rockland.