ABOVE PHOTO: City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) speaks about the first round of Solarize Philly in Fishtown, while (from left in background) Chris Lewis, Chair, Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA); Laura Rigell, the Solar Manager with PEA, and Councilmember Derek S. Green (At-Large) look on.
$3 million invested, 14 jobs created; next round of sign-ups to begin in January
City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (D- 5th Dist.), Councilmember Derek S. Green (At-Large) and the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) announced the results of the first round of Solarize Philly, the City’s residential solar program on Tuesday. Since the program was launched in April, 2,200 households have expressed interest, 186 households have signed contracts to install solar on their homes, nearly $3 million has been invested in the region, and 14 new jobs have been created, half of which are held by minorities or women.
The PEA oversees Solarize Philly as part of City Council’s $1 billion Philadelphia Energy Campaign, which seeks to advance energy efficiency and clean energy in buildings across the City, collect significant cost savings for property owners and taxpayers, and create 10,000 family-sustaining jobs over 10 years. The PEA is an independent office created by City Council to further clean and affordable energy goals.
By offering discount pricing though group purchasing, Solarize Philly is a convenient and affordable way for homeowners to make the switch to solar energy. Solarize Philly offered enrollment from July 1st to October 31st of this year, and referred homeowners to one of three installers chosen in an open and competitive Request for Proposals process: Solar States, KISS Electric, and Moore Energy.
On Tuesday, City Council and PEA joined the Office of Sustainability, the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L+I), and PECO at the Fishtown home of participant Kate Zmich.
“The strong initial response to Solarize Philly is proof that we are a forward-thinking City of Neighborhoods, eager to protect our environment and invest in our futures by joining the clean energy economy,” Clarke said. “Philly is indisputably a national leader in the transition to clean energy. I’m especially thrilled to see young people emerge from the training program to become Solarize Philly installers. We’re preparing Philadelphians for jobs with strong futures, and investing in communities across the City along the way.”
“The success of the first phase of the Solarize Philly initiative is a huge step on the path to a more sustainable city,” Green said. “PEA’s new subsidized financing option will open up the solar economy to more Philadelphians. With 186 households already signed on and nearly two dozen high school students trained in the program, this $3 million investment will undoubtedly yield a remarkable return for our City.”
Two of the workers on site at the Zmich home – Katrell Holmes and Maine Robinson –completed solar or other workforce training programs through YouthBuild Philly and PowerCorps PHL. As part of Solarize Philly, PEA partnered with the School District of Philadelphia last summer to train high school students in the basics of solar installation.
Danaje Elliott (Overbrook High School ‘17) also participated in training and is now working for Solar States as an installer. “I’m getting new experience and impacting the world. Solar States has a real sense of community that has made me feel welcome,” Elliott said.
Councilmember Blondell Reynolds Brown (At Large), chair of the Committee on the Environment, added: “We have good news to share! The good news is that Solarize Philly implemented a training program specifically designed to support young Philadelphians wishing to enter the many careers in the green economy that earn a living wage. In so many ways, going solar is about the future and it is critical that our young people be at the table to seize opportunities for participation in this new and dynamic field.”
“We designed Solarize Philly to grow demand for solar in Philadelphia and eliminate barriers that have discouraged Philadelphians from generating their own clean energy,” said Laura Rigell, the solar manager with PEA. “Solarize Philly has proven a powerful tool for economic development, spurring our installers to hire new employees and funding the expansion of solar job training programs. We are eager to create more opportunities for Philadelphians to benefit from the growing solar industry when we reopen Solarize Philly in 2018.”
Solarize Philly has raised more than $200,000 for job training and affordable solar options for low- and moderate-income households. These funds will be combined with private donations to offer the “Find Your Power” curriculum to an additional 40 Philadelphia high school students over the spring and summer of 2018. PEA is also supporting the Energy Coordinating Agency and Philadelphia OIC to develop solar training courses available to adults and other students.
The next Solarize Philly enrollment period will open in early 2018, with a subsidized financing option available for low- and moderate-income households. All homeowners interested in solar can sign up now at www.solarizephilly.org, and PEA will begin screenings for the second round of Solarize Philly in January 2018.
Subsidized financing will be available to 45 households in a pilot program (income guidelines available here), and additional households will receive benefits as funding becomes available. Participants will still be expected to finance a portion of the project, and financing for a variety of credit profiles will be made available. The first group of subsidized households will be selected by April 1st.
“Joining Solarize Philly couldn’t have been an easier choice,” Zmich said. “With Solarize Philly, I get a chance to invest my money in line with my values by supporting solar job-training programs in a local school and getting clean energy from the sun. The enrollment process was simple and informative, and now I’m the lucky owner of roof-top solar panels.”
PEA worked closely with PECO and L+I to streamline management of applications and approvals associated with Solarize Philly. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar in Your Community Challenge — a $5 million contest within the SunShot Initiative to support innovative and replicable community-based programs to bring solar to underserved communities across the U.S. – provided seed funding for Solarize Philly.