SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II today flipped the switch on a 4.7-megawatt ground-mounted solar array to provide affordable green energy to low-income households in Massachusetts.
The former Massachusetts Congressman was joined by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and New England Farmworkers’ Council Chairman Herbie Flores in connecting needy families to energy savings.
“We are proud to work with elected and community leaders like Mayor Sarno and Chairman Flores to ensure that clean energy is accessible and affordable for all,” said Kennedy, who founded Citizens Energy Corporation 40 years ago to find innovative ways to help poor families meet their energy needs. “We have an enormous responsibility to our community and to our planet to not only make green choices, but to make those choices available to our most vulnerable populations.”
The 24-acre solar installation on Oak Street in the Indian Orchard neighborhood will generate electricity savings for 500 low-income ratepayers who subscribe to Citizens Energy’s innovative JOE-4-SUN program. Subscribers receive a 50% discount on clean, renewable energy and will save about $300 each year.
“My thanks to Chairman Kennedy, who has been a good friend to our citizens. This not only is good for our environment, but also for the bottom line of our city budget,” said Mayor Sarno. The City of Springfield is buying a major portion of the power at a 20% discount, saving the city $1.2 million over the next 20 years.
"I’ve been working with Citizens Energy Corporation since its inception and have seen the good their programs have brought to our community,” said Council Chairman Flores, whose agency has helped Citizens Energy sign up JOE-4-SUN subscribers. “As we head into the future, the new technology created is crucial for the protection of our earth. We need to leave a healthy home for future generations. Thank God for the sun!"
“I worked all my life to put my three sons and grandson through college,” said Essie Thomas-Ware, an 82-year-old great-grandmother who has lived in her Springfield home for over 50 years. “I worked and I prayed, I worked and I prayed some more. I got help from JOE-4-OIL and now from JOE-4-SUN. Thank God for the assistance. Every little bit of help is a blessing.”
The 12,600-panel array was developed by Citizens Energy after a competitive bid process to turn a blighted dumping ground for foundry waste into a greenfield of the 21st century. The Oak Street array is one of five solar farms, owned and operated by Citizens Energy, that comprise the JOE-4-SUN program in Massachusetts.
Together, the arrays generate 16 megawatts of discount energy earmarked to benefit the low-income ratepayers in both Eversource and National Grid service territories. Made possible by the state’s SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) initiative, JOE-4-SUN is the largest low-income solar program in Massachusetts.
Each year, close to 2,000 families who previously could not afford costly green power technologies will join the renewable energy revolution thanks to JOE-4-SUN. Over the course of its 20-year lifetime, the groundbreaking JOE-4-SUN program will save Bay-State families upwards of $10 million.
In addition to the Massachusetts arrays, Citizens Energy recently unveiled the largest low-income community solar installation in the country, located in Imperial Valley, California. The 30-megawatt project, consisting of 107,000 panels, produces energy savings for 12,000 low-income households, making the Boston-based non-profit the national leader in mission-based renewable energy development.
Citizens Energy currently owns and operates over 40 solar projects, built and under construction, from Massachusetts to California that provide energy savings to low-income families, non-profits, fire departments, and homeless shelters.
In order to be eligible for JOE-4-SUN, renters or homeowners must be R-2 discount customers in the National Grid or Eversource service territories. They will continue to receive their R-2 discount on top of the savings from JOE-4-SUN. Citizens Energy will enroll households in the JOE-4-SUN program for at least 12 months.
Households interested in subscribing to JOE-4-SUN may apply online by visiting the Citizens Energy website at www.citizensenergy.com/joe4sun, or by calling 855-JOE-4-SUN (855-563-4786) to request a paper application. Applicants can also send an email to JOE4SUN@citizensenergy.com for further information.