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A Year Later, Citizens Energy Solar Homes Project Participants See Monetary Benefits


Imperial Valley Press by Heric Rubio For the more than 50 years Maria Martinez has been living in her home on the east side of El Centro, the summer months have been met with dread, knowing that the high temperatures came with high electricity bills as well. Averaging more than $200 per month during peak usage, Martinez explained August tended to be the most expensive. “It was usually about $280 then,” she said. But those high prices became a thing of the past, when in June of last year, Martinez’s home was outfitted with a set of solar panels through the Citizens Energy Solar Homes Project. A brainchild of Citizens Energy Corporation Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II, the project, which kicked off almost exactly a year ago, aims to lower the electricity bills of low-income Imperial Valley residents, states a Jan. 2013 CEC press release. Now a year into the program, project participants throughout the county have seen the monetary benefits of having their homes powered by solar panels. “I paid $2.80 this month,” said Martinez. “The most I’ve paid is $126.” El Centro resident Jo Ann Rodrigues Finley, whose home was the first to be outfitted through the CESHP, has reaped similar rewards. “I used to pay about $325 to $350,” she said. “Now it’s quite a bit lower. It accomplished what it set out to do.” Martinez explained that although there are eligibility requirement apart from being low-income, such as owning the home and having good credit, the CEC project is free of charge to qualifying participants. According to the press release, funding for the solar homes project comes directly from revenues made by CEC’s ownership share of the Sunrise Powerlink, a high-voltage power transmission line that transfers renewable energy made in the Imperial Valley to San Diego County. With California more than doubling its rooftop solar installations in 2013, programs like the Citizens Energy Solar Homes Project have been making the transition to clean energy more accessible to households in the Imperial County, one of the poorest counties in the state. “There is so much energy in the Imperial Valley,” wrote Kennedy in the CEC press release. “But there’s no reason that these resources should be out of the reach of average working American families.”