Solar For All Benefits the Poor

Note: On August 13, 2020, the Hartford Courant ran a Letter to the Editor submitted by Connecticut Green Bank CEO and President Bryan Garcia. The published letter was a shortened version (to fit the Courant’s guidelines); the full version of the letter is below.  


By Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank

Paul Steidler’s July 26, 2020 article “Rush to Renewable Energy Hurts Poor” tries to make the point that America’s expanded use of natural gas will not only benefit our economy and the environment, but also help those who are less fortunate.  He notes that renewable energy is among the reasons why residential electricity is 66% more expensive in New England than the rest of the country.

In Connecticut, low-to-moderate income families and communities of color are reducing the burden of their energy costs not by consuming more natural gas, but by installing solar on their rooftops and making their homes more energy efficient. The energy affordability gap for our most vulnerable citizens is about $1,400 per year, which means that the poor are paying more for energy in our state than what is affordable.  Through state efforts in partnership with the private sector, it is solar power and energy efficiency that are reducing that affordability gap by nearly $1,100 per year not natural gas.  Our state is a “parity state” when it comes to income and “beyond parity state” when it comes to race in terms of solar deployment – meaning the poor and communities of color are demanding solar power and energy efficiency more than those with means and who are White.

Nearly a year ago to the day, Hartford experienced some of the hottest weather on record.  The weather was so hot and humid that state officials warned people about two problems – excessive heat and bad air.  This resulted in higher air conditioning usage stressing the electricity grid, resulting in ISO-NE calling upon higher-cost and higher-polluting power that came from fossil fuels.  These fossil fuel power plants emit pollutants that react with sunlight to create smog which contributes to poor air quality and is harmful to public health.  At the same time, across the Constitution State, there were nearly 28,000 homes powered by the sun that were providing 230 MW of power output during peak times. This reduced $3 million of peak demand costs which lowered energy costs for all electric ratepayers. It also removed the need for more power generation from burning fossil fuels thereby cleaning the air we all breathe.

Air pollution is not good for our public health – and it is especially detrimental when you have a disease that targets the respiratory system such as COVID-19.  We are seeing more clearly today than ever before, how pollution from fossil fuel resources creates a disproportionate share of the negative environmental impacts on the public health within communities of color.  Call it environmental justice or climate justice, natural gas and its infrastructure aren’t good for the poor! 

Right now, Connecticut is in the process of modernizing and decarbonizing its antiquated energy system into a 21st century clean energy platform that will continue to enable the growth of our green economy.  By combining renewable energy resources like the sun, with energy efficiency, battery storage, and demand response, we are working towards a zero-carbon electricity grid that will fuel zero emission vehicles for our roads and power carbon-free renewable heating and cooling systems for our homes.

During this pandemic, we are all experiencing tough economic times, but everyone can be part of the solution. Schedule a home energy audit (no-cost). Insulate your home to make it more energy efficient (rebates up to 100 percent available). Install solar on your roof (it’s affordable).  Solar for all, benefits all of us, especially the poor!

Lighting Manufacturer L.C. Doane Powers Facility with Sunlight

Longtime U.S. Military supplier in Ivoryton sees environmental, financial benefits of going solar

 

Ivoryton, Conn. (Aug. 12, 2019) – The Connecticut Green Bank and the L.C. Doane Company are pleased to announce the closing of a financing agreement that will help the company expand existing solar systems on their roof. Verogy, a Hartford-based solar developer, will complete the installation.

For over 70 years the L.C. Doane company, located at 110 Pond Meadow Road in Ivoryton, Conn., has served the United States Navy and Coast Guard supplying commissioned fleets with tough, reliable MIL-Spec Shipboard lighting. Since October 2008, L.C. Doane has used solar photovoltaics on their roof to supply electricity to their 150,000 square foot factory. Now, thanks in part to the recent closing of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing through the Connecticut Green Bank, L.C. Doane is expanding their solar system to generate more energy to power their machinery. When completed, the new solar systems will add more than 200 kW of capacity.

“As a government subcontractor in the defense industry, it is essential to keep our own lights on,” said Bill Psillos, Vice President. “While manufacturing occurs under our roof, the power source is created from above. Our solar panels provide us with clean energy right on-site. Another level of U.S.-made, environmentally conscience manufacturing. As we continue to expand so does our roof!”

In addition to adding to the existing solar array and installing a larger one, L.C. Doane is also replacing roofing beneath the original panels. The total project costs are $1.46 million with the C-PACE financing covering over $1.06 million. Through C-PACE financing, the project is paid off over 10 years through a voluntary benefit assessment lien to be repaid along with their property taxes.

L.C. Doane worked with Verogy and the Connecticut Green Bank to arrange the multi-faceted project. “C-PACE allows companies the flexibility they need to solve their unique energy needs,” said William Herchel, CEO of Verogy. “We’re glad we were able to help L.C. Doane navigate the options, and find the best possible outcome.”

Project costs are being offset by a $40,000 Energy on the Line Grant, a program funded through the Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Manufacturing Innovation Fund to help manufacturers lower their energy costs.

“It’s great to see a long-time Connecticut manufacturer like the L.C. Doane Company expanding their commitment to generating clean energy,” said Mackey Dykes, Vice President of Commercial and Institutional Programs at the Connecticut Green Bank. “C-PACE financing is designed to make projects like this feasible, so companies can benefit from their upgrades immediately and continue to focus on their core business.”

In addition to their subcontracting work with the U.S. military, L.C. Doane’s trusted quality is designed to meet commercial lighting applications including healthcare, industrial, correctional, and institutional industries. All L.C. Doane products are designed and manufactured in the U.S.

“L.C. Doane is setting a great example for other businesses in the region, demonstrating how a commitment to sustainability can also allow building owners to reduce energy costs and remain competitive” said Jeff Pugliese, Vice President, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber has been an advocate for making energy efficiency and renewable energy programs more accessible to businesses in the region, and we are excited to see member businesses taking advantage of solar energy and the Green Bank’s C-PACE program.”

 

About the Connecticut Green Bank

The Connecticut Green Bank was established by the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011 as a part of Public Act 11-80. As the nation’s first full-scale green bank, it is leading the clean energy finance movement by leveraging public and private funds to scale-up renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency projects across Connecticut. The Green Bank’s success in accelerating private investment in clean energy is helping Connecticut create jobs, increase economic prosperity, promote energy security and address climate change. For more information about the Connecticut Green Bank, please visit www.ctgreenbank.com. For information on C-PACE, please visit www.cpace.com.

About the L.C. Doane Company

Lighting by the L.C. Doane Company has withstood the worst environments and toughest abuse onboard U.S. naval vessels since 1947. Utilizing our experience with shipboard lighting we have been building tough, reliable lights for other demanding environments including industrial, correctional, institutional, and commercial marine – setting new records in durability and performance. For more information about the L.C. Doane company, please visit www.lcdoane.com or contact Joe Thomas ([email protected]).

About Verogy

Verogy originates and develops renewable energy projects across the United States to provide savings and long-term value for its clients. Verogy manages all aspects of each project to ensure optimal production and financial performance. For more information on Verogy, visit www.verogy.com.