By Lisa Kashinsky
Joseph P. Kennedy II stepped out in Revere Thursday to launch a new solar energy program aimed at helping low-income families pay less for electricity.
The former congressman and chairman of Citizens Energy — who ran the well-known Joe-4-Oil program — unveiled the Joe-4-Sun at a subscriber's home in Revere, saying the new initiative was a step forward in promoting renewable energy in the state and combating climate change.
"There are a bunch of people down in Washington that don't even think that climate change is real. They are climate change deniers," Kennedy said. But, he said, "It's no joke when the temperature gets to 100 degrees. People suffer, and people die. And we can stop that. This project is about trying to stop that."
Through the state's Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target initiative, Citizens Energy is building five solar arrays on capped landfills in Ayer, Bridgewater, Springfield, Spencer and Ashland — producing electricity to be sold as credits at discounted rates to commercial or municipal buyers, and individual households.
The city of Revere is projected to save $500,000 through the program — on top of $4 million the city is already saving under a separate, 20-year virtual net-metering contract with Citizens Energy.
Credits being provided at a 50% discount will also help 3,500 low-income households save about $150 a year on electricity.
Among those who will benefit from the program is Nancy DiGaetano — whose Revere home was the site of Thursday's press conference announcing Joe-4-Sun, and is one of 150 households that will receive the electricity discount in the city. DiGaetano, who cares for several children and is on Social Security disability after undergoing a series of major surgeries, called her electric and gas bills "outrageous."
House Speaker Robert DeLeo — whose district includes a portion of Revere and who was on hand Thursday to introduce the program along with Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo — said Joe-4-Sun means families such as DiGaetano's "will no longer have to choose between paying for their heat or their groceries, their electric bill or their mortgage. This will take a great amount of pressure off of these folks each and every day." ANGELA ROWLINGS PHOTOS / HERALD STAFF SUNNY: Citizens Energy Chairman Joe Kennedy II and Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo greet a man as they arrive for a Thursday news conference in Revere. Nancy DiGaetano, right, hugs Kennedy.