Community solar businesses across the country are helping relieve utility costs for thousands of households. They are supporting food banks and non-profit organizations. They are providing meals to those in need. And they are donating personal protection equipment (PPE) to essential medical personnel working on the front lines to treat people with COVID-19.
For the community solar industry whose roots run deep within their local communities, it is not business as usual. In fact, dozens of solar companies across the industry have rallied behind relief efforts in response to COVID-19 and are supporting their local communities to get through the pandemic. They understand that during this time of crisis, they must support the communities that support their industry.
“Community solar businesses, by nature, already work extensively in the communities they serve to offer savings on their electric bills and easy access to local solar energy. So, it is only natural to see the industry stepping up in this time of need,” said CCSA’s Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “Despite dealing with their own hardships, it’s been nice to see our industry find creative ways to lift up their communities and lend a hand to the very people who make their businesses possible.”
Here is a look at a sample of the efforts CCSA member companies have undertaken in the past few months:
Utility bills are a substantial and unavoidable monthly cost for many families, especially those who have lost their jobs or are otherwise affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19. Numerous community solar companies are stepping up to provide bill relief to their customers while continuing to provide services. Summit Ridge Energy ran a program to help relieve utility costs for households by contributing $150,000 in power bill assistance to 6,000 Illinois households who subscribe to Arcadia community solar projects. Technology company Arcadia also launched a “Good Energy” peer-to-peer billing assistance program for all of its members across the country, collecting donations to help those in need pay their bills, matching donations dollar for dollar.
Supporting Food Banks & Non-Profits
With unemployment rising to unprecedented levels, there is a greater need to provide basic human necessities such as food and shelter. Employees of Boston-based Nexamp banded together to raise $165,000 for local food banks in the Northeast and Maryland based Nautilus Solar has made donations to various non-profit organizations in their hometown such as United Way of Central Maryland, United Way of Lower Eastern Shore and United Way of Washington County.
Countless other community solar companies are pitching in to support food banks and non-profits in their hometown markets such as Pivot Energy, Infiniti Energy Services, CleanChoice Energy and Turning Point Energy, to name a few.
Donating Money for PPE and Goods
Throughout the pandemic there has been a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) for our essential medical personnel and other front-line workers. To help fill the need, Santa Clara-based SunPower donated more than $40,000 to the Valley Medical Center in California for N95 masks while Trina Solar, Nexamp and others in the industry have organized donations from employees and distributed PPE equipment to various partners in their communities.
An Industry Built to Help
While these types of direct community relief efforts are important, the expansion of community solar programs can bring even greater natural benefits as America recovers from the devastating effects of the pandemic.
“The community solar industry is uniquely positioned to help with COVID economic relief efforts. Community solar projects provide local economic development funded by private dollars to build public infrastructure – it’s a win-win,” continued Cramer. “These projects generate tax revenues for states and cities who are already preparing for historic budget shortfalls, they lower energy costs for millions of customers, and create jobs that will put Americans back to work!”
Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) is a national Coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand customer choice and access to solar to all American households and businesses through community solar. Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credits on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business. Community solar expands access to solar for all, including low-to-moderate income customers, all while building a stronger, distributed, and more resilient electric grid.