Community Solar for Community Action
New Solar Array Planned at SEVCA's Westminster Location
SEVCA plans to build, own, and manage the first community solar installation in the nation to use virtual net metering credits to deliver energy assistance directly to low-income households. This project, Community Solar for Community Action, will demonstrate a new, nationally relevant, scalable model of energy assistance, enabling low-income households to meet their energy needs while supporting the development of renewable energy resources. SEVCA was recently awarded a grant of $111,000 from the Windham Regional Commission’s Renewable Energy Grant Program to help make the project a reality.
Community solar is a fiscally responsible and environmentally appropriate alternative to conventional, fossil-fuel-based energy assistance. Vermont has a favorable regulatory environment for community solar projects, a population that is highly supportive of renewable energy, and a significant need for energy assistance among low-income households. The project aims to help chart a new future towards a more sustainable low-income energy assistance program.
This innovative project will consist of a 150 kW ground- and roof-mounted solar array sited on SEVCA’s property in Westminster, VT. Approximately 70 of SEVCA’s low-income clients with high energy burdens will become subscribers to the solar project, and receive virtual net metering credits as a form of energy assistance. The system is projected to produce 196,284 kWh per year and save approximately 161 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Project goals include:
- Reducing the energy burden of low-income households through applying virtual net metering credits on their electricity bills, based on the energy generated by the solar array.
- Enabling low-income households to support and benefit from development of renewable sources of energy, thereby participating in the transition to a more sustainable energy economy.
- Reducing participating low-income households’ dependence on energy assistance by decreasing and stabilizing their energy costs.
- Contributing to reducing and stabilizing SEVCA’s energy costs for the operation of its main office in Westminster, thereby freeing up scarce resources to use for services.