Green Mountain Power to install solar array on roof to aid low-income

MIDDLEBURY — Green Mountain Power will be using the roof of its Middlebury service station to practice what it preaches about renewable energy.
Company officials recently announced plans to install a 325-panel solar array on the roof at 121 Cady Road, just east of Route 7.
GMP and SunCommon are collaborating on the project, designed to serve around 35 residential customers. And the company has decided to reserve those slots for low-income folks residing in the Middlebury area. These are residents — many of them renters — who might not otherwise be able to invest in solar energy.
“This is an exciting program that will help ensure more Vermonters have access to transformation, as we move to a home-, business- and community-based energy system,” said GMP President and CEO Mary Powell. “We are excited to work with SunCommon … to leverage the power of the sun from our own rooftops.”
Crews are currently installing the solar panels, to cover 11,412 square feet of the total 20,000 square feet of the Cady Road building’s roof, according to GMP spokesperson Kristin Carlson. Officials anticipate the panels will be in place within eight weeks, with customers seeing the energy benefits by January.
GMP officials are calling it a “first-of-its-kind” program, and here’s how it works.
Qualifying families must have household incomes that fall within 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline. That’s $36,900 for a family of four.
Once enrolled, the customers become part of a community solar association and receive a 7-percent discount on the power the project generates. So a household that uses $100 of electricity will pay $93 for it, Carlson noted.
“Community Solar is accessible by design — making solar possible for renters and others who can’t install panels at their own home,” said James Moore, co-president of SunCommon. “At SunCommon, we share GMP’s interest in bringing the lowest cost energy to those with the tightest monthly budgets. Through this partnership, we’ve further opened our Community Solar program. If you consistently pay your power bill, you’re in.  It’s that simple.”
Carlson encouraged qualifying customers to sign up as soon as possible for the limited slots. For more information on the program and how to sign up, log on to lowincomesolarvt.com or call SunCommon at (802) 882-8181.
“Low-income Vermonters carry the highest energy burdens in the state and we’re glad to see that local companies are building new ways for these Vermonters to save money with clean energy,” said Ludy Biddle, executive director of NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, a non-profit that helps people find housing and navigate the financing process. “This feels like a step in the right direction and we hope to see more programs focused on this population.”
GMP’s Cady Road rooftop solar array could become the first of many. Carlson confirmed the company is scouting its other service center rooftops as potential sites for additional arrays.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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