By Jon Chesto
Like many other energy companies, Joe Kennedy II’s Citizens Energy has shifted its focus from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
That was quite evident on Thursday, when Citizens Energy and Kennedy, the nonprofit’s chairman, held an event in Revere to showcase their new community-shared solar program for low-income residents.
The announcement was made at the home of Nancy DiGaetano, a grandmother who is the program’s first participant, and drew House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo.
Citizens Energy, through a for-profit arm, is building five solar arrays on capped former landfills across the state: in Ashland, Ayer, Bridgewater, Spencer, and Springfield.
Together, these five solar projects will generate 16 megawatts of electricity, making it the largest low-income, shared-solar community initiative in the state.
Like similar initiatives, this program gives renters and others who wouldn’t otherwise be able to directly benefit from solar power an opportunity to do so.
Participating low-income households get electricity at roughly a 50 percent discount through the sale of credits related to the power generated by the solar panels, saving them $150 a year.
Citizens Energy needs to sign up at least 3,500 low-income customers to fully benefit from the reimbursement rates for these kinds of programs established by state regulations.
To do so, chief executive Pete Smith says, Citizens will launch a marketing campaign on its social media channels and reach out to nonprofit partners it has worked with in the past to drive potential customers to the website, at citizensenergy.com.
For now, there won’t be any ads on TV for JOE-4-SUN like the JOE-4-OIL spots, Smith says. Citizens’ heating oil assistance program ended four years ago, when Citgo stopped donating the fuel.