The City of Boston has announced a pilot programme to increase solar panel installation and onsite battery storage in East Boston.
In partnership with GreenRoots, a local environmental organisation, the Solarize Eastie pilot aims to bring the benefits of affordable renewable energy to residents in East Boston. The programme uses a group buying model to reduce costs for residents by aggregating demand and securing a discounted price per watt.
Energy efficiency solutions
In an associated undertaking, the City will work with Mass Save’s Community First Partnership to provide cost-saving energy efficiency solutions to residents, small businesses, houses of worship, and local non-profits primarily located in East Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. The two programmes are supplemented by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
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 neighbourhood median income is $52,935.
The programme offers a variety of payment support, including a 15 per cent 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.
“These kinds of partnerships allow us to bring energy benefits to environmental justice communities while helping us achieve our collective goal of decarbonisation”
“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, City of Boston.
“These kinds of partnerships allow us to bring energy benefits to environmental justice communities while helping us achieve our collective goal of decarbonisation.”
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. Resonant Energy, based in Dorchester, specialises in bringing accessible solar options to communities with limited resources, affordable housing units, and non-profit organisations throughout Massachusetts.
With intentional and equitable outreach to these communities in the first year of the programme – in particular, for renters – the Community First Partnership will share energy efficiency opportunities with residents to provide emissions reductions, cost savings, and increased comfort.
“These partnerships embody our commitment to investing in environmental justice and energy democracy”
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 per cent 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 partnerships expand upon mayor Michelle Wu’s administration’s commitment to energy democracy and becoming a Green New Deal city.
“These partnerships embody our commitment to investing in environmental justice and energy democracy,” said mayor Wu. “I am grateful to GreenRoots and Mass Save for leadership for a Boston Green New Deal.”
Last month, Wu included transformative energy efficiency investments in her first proposed budget including $20m for a pilot for energy retrofits in triple deckers and other multi-family homes while maintaining affordability.
Additionally, a $33m investment of ARPA funding was allocated 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.