Rays the Valley Receives a Solar in Your Community DOE Award

Local Organizations Win a $60,000 US DOE Award to Bring Solar to Local Low and Middle Income Residents and Nonprofits

April 25, 2017, Northampton MA- A collaborative project of local organizations including Community Action, Co-op Power, Climate Action Now, and Mothers Out Front, aims to provide people with limited resources and nonprofits the ability to participate in the solar revolution.  Dubbed ‘Rays the Valley’, the project has just been awarded a U.S. Dept of Energy seed grant to develop community solar electricity projects to benefit local low/moderate income households and nonprofit organizations that have not heretofore been able to benefit from solar electricity in Hampshire and Franklin counties. Saul Perlmutter from Climate Action Now says, “Solar is an important part of our energy future and we don’t want to leave anyone behind.”

The team will participate in the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative’s Solar in Your Community Challenge, a national competition that aims to expand solar electricity access.  Over the next 18 months, Rays the Valley will develop innovative projects to enable low and moderate income households and local nonprofits in Hampshire and Franklin Counties to go solar.  Rays the Valley will join teams from around the country to compete for $1 million in final prizes, which will be awarded by judges based on each project or program’s innovation, impact, and replicability.

Rays the Valley plans to first build a 400 kW array on the roof of a local privately owned building in National Grid territory and offer direct-ownership solar shares to 100 low and moderate income households to lower their electric bills. They will develop other sites for another 1.1 megawatts of solar projects to similarly benefit people with limited resources. Rays the Valley will also build a megawatt of solar arrays on buildings owned by nonprofit organizations to lower their electric bills.  In total, the project will provide 2.5 megawatts clean power into the grid at times of peak demand, thus benefitting all electric customers.

Adele Franks of Climate Action Now emphasized “We need to transition to clean, renewable energy as quickly as possible, in a way that benefits everyone in our community.  This grant gives national recognition to our local commitment to bring about energy efficiency and 100% renewable energy in an equitable way.”

Rays the Valley is now signing up low and moderate income households and nonprofits interested in receiving the benefits of solar electricity, and local municipal governments interested in participating as partners in Hampshire and Franklin Counties. They are also looking for good sites for shared solar arrays.  Interested parties should contact Co-op Power at (413) 772-8898.  Public forums to explain the program will be offered in coming months.

Community Action Director, Clare Higgins, added “We are so happy to have a way for people with lower or moderate incomes to have greener energy through access to affordable solar power." 

Lynn Benander of Co-op Power said “Projects initiated with the help of this funding will spawn many other similar projects in our region. We are very excited to partner with Community Action, Climate Action Now, and Mothers Out Front to build out these important solar projects in our region. It’s important that people with limited resources and nonprofits have access to the same electricity savings that others have had access to for years. The time is right for this model to take off.”

About Rays the Valley partners:

Co-op Power is a consumer-owned energy cooperative dedicated to building a just and sustainable energy future. They use innovative ownership and financing models to bring clean energy to all.

Community Action is the community action program serving Hampshire and Franklin Counties, helping 7,500 low-income households cover their energy costs. The program works to reduce energy consumption, improve heating systems, and help pay a portion of fuel and utility bills.

Climate Action Now is a grassroots organization in the Pioneer Valley comprised of 2500 activists devoted to preserving a livable climate for all people.

Mothers out Front Pioneer Valley is a chapter of a national organization dedicated to creating a healthy climate now and a livable future for all children.  

About the Solar in Your Community Challenge

The Solar in Your Community Challenge, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative and administered by SUNY Polytechnic Institute, is a $5 million prize competition that aims to expand solar access to low and moderate income households; and state, local, and tribal governments; and nonprofit organizations.

More information about the selected teams and the Solar in Your Community Challenge is at www.solarinyourcommunity.org

About the SunShot Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption. SunShot aims to make solar energy a low cost electricity source for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.

 Watch their video!