KYMA News Channel 11
By Billy Khang CALIPATRIA, Calif. - Pauline Price is one of the thousands of IID low-income customers having a hard time making ends meet. Sometimes choosing between food or paying her energy bill. Price said, "There are certain things that we would have to go without because the bill was more important. We have the AC's on all the time in the summer. And yes it could cost a fortune." But a new low-income community solar project by the Imperial Irrigation District(IID) and Citizens Energy will be saving residents like her as much as $500 a year. Price said she'll use this money for her husband's medications. "The protein drinks and things like that. Are so expensive. So obviously the savings that we get, it all helps to go towards that extra expense that we didn't have before." This means residents can invest it back in the local economy. Imperial County District Supervisor, Raymond Castillo said, "Money, that's instead of going into the power grid now it's going to go into the communities. So it benefits the community tremendously. It gives the people a little more buying power." The project also helps the Golden State meet its clean energy goals. Drew Bohan, Executive Director of the California Energy Commission said, "When you have solar panels like these, you see no smoke coming off of them. This is a completely clean resource." IID President of Board of Directors, Erik Ortega low-income customers can now rely on renewable energy without having to pay extra. "The energy that they would normally generate by way of rooftop solar, will be generated at the solar field. Which will then be put into the grid to be towards their homes." Ortega hopes the solar project could set a trend for other utility companies. "So this will be a model that other utilities can follow to benefit their ratepayers around the country." IID officials said their low-income ratepayers can expect to see discounts in their energy bills in October.