On September 16, members of the community gathered to celebrate the launch of Southeastern Vermont Community Action’s (SEVCA’s) Community Solar for Community Action (CS4CA) program, which will help reduce the excessive energy burdens of at least 50 households with low incomes by providing virtual credits on their electricity accounts. Complementing its home Weatherization and Crisis Fuel programs, CS4CA will be an important new tool in SEVCA’s efforts to ensure that vulnerable households can meet their energy needs now and in the future. A number of CS4CA subscribers who will benefit from the project were in attendance.
The event featured presentations by Haley Pero, representing the Office of Senator Bernie Sanders; Vicki O’Day, representing the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL); and Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director. Presenters reflected on the importance of creating renewable energy solutions, like community solar projects, that were accessible to households that did not have the means to install their own solar panels. RREAL and SEVCA are working to promote national expansion of the model, proposing that the extensive network of Community Action agencies throughout the country could play a key role. SEVCA’s solar array, fully completed in May, has produced over 70,000 kWh of electricity so far, with an estimated annual yield of almost 120,000 kWh annually. The expected energy savings for each participating household is estimated at $400/year.
SEVCA worked in partnership for over a year with the Minnesota-based Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) to develop this Community Solar for Community Action (CS4CA) project, as part of the national Solar in Your Community Challenge, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). SEVCA’s is one of several community solar projects RREAL developed during the competition period, and RREAL was awarded the runner-up prize in the competition. Catamount Solar, a Vermont-based, employee-owned solar contractor, was selected to install the array.