Renewable Energy Will Provide Discount to Thousands

“Poor families are going to receive hundreds and hundreds of dollars every year because of this. If we as human beings don’t think mother nature isn’t going to bite back because what we have done, then we are living in a false reality and we need to wake up. and this project is one way to wake us up and says there is a bright beautiful future that we can have,” said former congressman Joseph Kennedy II.

Imperial Irrigation District and Citizens Energy Corporation just completed the largest low-income solar project in the country, bringing politicians from both sides of the aisle together.”

“It’s nice to see what went on the drawing board and what we talked about in Sacramento become reality. and i think the country is going to learn a lot about what were innovating ad doing out here today,” said Senator Jeff Stone.

There are more than 100,000 solar panels like this out here in Calipatria. It will generate 30MW of power and serve over 12,000 customers.

”It just helps you know when each month you look at your income and you think am I going to make it this month. I just want to say thank you to everybody,” said low-income customer Pauline Price

Low income customers in Imperial and Coachella Valleys will start seeing the savings this October.

“Anyone enrolled in IID Low Income Assistance Program will be automatically enrolled,” said Antonio Ortega.

Senator Jeff Stone said this solar project aligns with California’s steep goals on renewable energy.

“By 2045 we are suppose to be 100-percent on alternative energy. We have solar energy, wind energy, thermal energy. We set the stage for what the rest of the country is going to do,” said Stone.

Solar Joint Venture Will Have Long-Term Impact

This week, the Imperial Irrigation District celebrated the joining of forces with Citizens Energy Corp. to help provide clean, locally generated renewable energy to thousands of people in the Imperial and Coachella valleys.

The IID Citizens community solar project, located just north of Calipatria on district-owned property, takes locally generated renewable energy and does something no other utility does by scale or implementation.

A first of its kind for community solar, all of the energy from the IID Citizens solar project will be provided to all of IID’s low-income customer accounts, which currently is about 12,000. In addition to these customers now being able to enjoy the use of local resources and be part of California’s green energy revolution, these customers will also benefit from a new discount on their electric bill.

The project is quite possibly an example for the rest of the country and something that will have long lasting, local beneficial impacts.

For a number of years, IID has believed that a project like this could benefit its customers. It came about after the district and Citizens, which had already been investing in the community, began discussions in 2017 and things moved forward quickly.

With IID agreeing to lease the land, and Citizens agreeing to construct the solar project, the IID Board, in January 2018, approved a 23-year power purchase agreement for 30 megawatts of renewable energy, obtaining the power at the lowest cost the district has ever been able to procure for solar energy.

Thanks to the unique partnership with Citizens, IID is able to pass on these savings in the form of an additional monthly discount to all of its Residential Energy Assistance Program low-income customers through the district’s new eGreen Program.

Given that each customer account likely represents a larger population when one looks at total household size, I would estimate that thousands more will benefit directly from this.

In a region where unemployment rates continue to hover around 20 percent and where income levels fall well below the national average, maintaining affordable energy rates and expanding our customer assistance programs is a critical priority for IID.

Furthermore, the solar power adds to the district’s already diverse renewable energy portfolio — one that I am proud to say — is made up entirely from renewable energy resources harnessed here in the IID service area.

Large energy projects like this one also create good paying jobs. During the construction phase there were 280 jobs created, most of them union jobs, which also created far-reaching positive financial impacts to the overall community.

So, there are a number of reasons for which we can be proud.

More than a century ago, IID was created by the public and for the public, and our mission remains – to deliver the most reliable, efficient and affordably priced service to the communities we serve.

We can be proud that after so many years, we continue to live by that mission.

This project is a testament of what can be accomplished when two entities like ours, committed to serving the public good, dedicate our resources and teams of talented minds to work together to achieve one common goal with one shared vision.

It is my hope this will not be the last time we collaborate and I look forward to our continued partnership.

Erik Ortega is president of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors.

Investment in Transmission Leads to Reinvestment in the Imperial Valley

A new community energy project is providing 12,000 low-income residents in the Imperial and Coachella valleys with solar power and decreasing their monthly bills.

The Imperial Irrigation District and Citizens Energy Corp., a Boston-based nonprofit, announced the 30-MW project Sept. 25. The project is being touted as “one of the largest low-income community solar projects in the nation.”

The project will “help provide clean, locally generated, renewable energy to thousands of people in the Imperial and Coachella valleys, all of whom will also receive additional monthly savings on their energy bills,” Erik Ortega, president of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, said. “Now, IID’s low-income customers can say they too form a part of California’s green energy revolution.”

The $46-million project will be sited on 200 acres owned by the district near its Midway Substation outside of Calipatria. It will consist of roughly 107,000 solar-panel modules. The energy is being provided to IID’s grid under a 23-year power-purchase agreement.

The district will have an option to purchase, own and operate the solar project at the end of the agreement.

The price of energy from the project is purportedly “the lowest the district has ever been able to procure” for solar-generated power. The first-year costs are estimated to be $19.83/MWh. The total cost of purchased power throughout the agreement is estimated to be $36 million.

Qualified customers will have their bills reduced through the irrigation district’s Residential Energy Assistance Program and its new eGreen Program.

When Citizens Energy made a $100-million investment in the Sunrise Powerlink—a 120-mile, 500-kV transmission line connecting the San Diego area with renewable energy resources in the Salton Sea area and Imperial County—it pledged to use the profits from the project to benefit low-income customers in the Imperial Irrigation District service area.

“This project is a direct result of that commitment,” the two groups said in a news release. “Under the partnership with IID, Citizens is able to reach thousands more customers than with their original rooftop solar assistance program with IID.”

Citizens Energy, founded by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, uses revenues from its varied successful energy ventures to invest in programs that help disadvantaged communities.

IID Launching ‘One of the Largest Low-Income’ Solar Projects in the Nation

CALIPATRIA, Calif.- – On Wednesday, the Imperial Irrigation District announced what it’s calling “one of the largest low-income community solar projects in the nation.”

The program in its current form aims to serve over 12,000 electric customers and is set to help provide relief in the form of reduced monthly bills under its Residential Energy Assistance Program (REAP) and new eGreen Program.

“Today we celebrate the joining of forces between IID and Citizens to help provide clean, locally generated, renewable energy to thousands of people in the Imperial and Coachella valleys, all of whom will also receive additional monthly savings on their energy bills,” Erik Ortega, president of the IID Board of Directors said via news release.

The announcement was made during a news conference in Calipatria which was attended by state senator Jeff Stone, executive director of the California Energy Commission Drew Bohan, and former congressman and Citizens Energy chairman and founder Joseph P. Kennedy II.

“Citizens Energy is proud and excited to continue to bring the benefits of the green revolution to low-income households in the IID service territory,” said Kennedy. “This project is a win-win-win: It’s good for the planet, good for low-income families, and fulfills the mission of IID and Citizens Energy to serve those in need.”

The 107,000 solar panel module project will be located on a 200-acre plot of IID-owned land near the district’s Midway Substation near Calipatria. Citizens Energy estimates that facility construction will cost $46 million.

IID-Citizens Energy Venture Lauded

CALIPATRIA — The Imperial Irrigation District power purchase agreement and project with Citizens Energy Corp. for 30 megawatts of solar energy to further lower electrical bills for low-income customers was celebrated here Wednesday morning.

Standing against a backdrop of solar panels at the IID Midway substation former Congressman and Citizens Energy chairman and founder Joseph Kennedy II and IID Board President Erik Ortega did a symbolic flip of the switch for green electric power to start flowing from the panels.

The IID board in April approved a 23-year power purchase agreement with Citizens Energy Corp. for the 30 megawatts of solar energy. Ten of the 30 megawatts were given to IID at no cost to serve low-income customers. The other 20 megawatts will be purchased by IID at a competitive wholesale rate.

Ortega called the program unique.

Customers already in the Residential Energy Assistance Program Program will save $334 a year in electrical bills, while seniors in the program will save $468 a year. What is unique is that the solar panels are at the Midway substation near Calipatria, not on top of a home.

About 12,000 low-income residents will have lower electrical bills, and Ortega said he thinks thousands more will be entering the program to receive the savings.

He said the solar panels will add to IID’s energy portfolio.

“It could be a benefit to our low-end customer,” he said.

He also said the construction part of the project resulted in 280 good-paying but temporary jobs.

Ortega thanked Citizens Energy for working with the district on renewable energy and said he hopes the two energy providers can work together on other projects in the future.

Kennedy, the oldest son of former attorney general and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, said the renewal energy program is not designed to earn a profit.

“One hundred percent of the money we make (on this) will go back to the poor,” Kennedy said.

“We have one America, and every American has the same right,” he said. “We should never take a backseat or allow anyone to be taken into the backseat for the color of his skin.” Kennedy also thanked IID for working together with Citizens and said he hopes this is just a “pit stop” where they can work together again.

IID customer Pauline Price said it is not uncommon for customers to look at their income versus their bills and struggle to find a way to make do.

Drew Bohan, executive director of the California Energy Commission, said California is taking the lead of using renewable resources at 34 percent.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law that renewable resources will provide 60 percent of California’s electrical power by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045. “This type of project helps this,” he said.

Sen. Jeff Stone, R-La Quinta, said he is very proud to be part of a legislature that can push bills for renewable energy. He added that he was born in Los Angeles, so he understands the smog that affects this larger city.

“I want to thank the Kennedy family for all of this,” he said, adding that his home is completely solar-powered, and he also owns three electric cars. “We are just setting an example for the rest of the country,” Stone said. “The rest of the country should emulate and follow.”

Imperial County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ryan Kelley said he is glad the board saw this as a need when the permitting process came to them. “I am happy we have this project,” Kelley said. “It will have everlasting impacts.”

Community Solar Project to Save Low-Income Families Hundreds Annually

CALIPATRIA, Calif. – Pauline Price is one of the thousands of IID low-income customers having a hard time making ends meet. Sometimes choosing between food or paying her energy bill.

Price said, “There are certain things that we would have to go without because the bill was more important. We have the AC’s on all the time in the summer. And yes it could cost a fortune.”

But a new low-income community solar project by the Imperial Irrigation District(IID) and Citizens Energy will be saving residents like her as much as $500 a year.

Price said she’ll use this money for her husband’s medications.

“The protein drinks and things like that. Are so expensive. So obviously the savings that we get, it all helps to go towards that extra expense that we didn’t have before.”

This means residents can invest it back in the local economy.

Imperial County District Supervisor, Raymond Castillo said, “Money, that’s instead of going into the power grid now it’s going to go into the communities. So it benefits the community tremendously. It gives the people a little more buying power.”

The project also helps the Golden State meet its clean energy goals.

Drew Bohan, Executive Director of the California Energy Commission said, “When you have solar panels like these, you see no smoke coming off of them. This is a completely clean resource.”

IID President of Board of Directors, Erik Ortega low-income customers can now rely on renewable energy without having to pay extra.

“The energy that they would normally generate by way of rooftop solar, will be generated at the solar field. Which will then be put into the grid to be towards their homes.”

Ortega hopes the solar project could set a trend for other utility companies.

“So this will be a model that other utilities can follow to benefit their ratepayers around the country.” IID officials said their low-income ratepayers can expect to see discounts in their energy bills in October

Program Makes Solar-Generated Energy Affordable

Alicia Alleyne, a 48-year-old working mother, has been frustrated by both climate change and her lack of access to the green technology that can help fight it.

Getting by on a limited income, Alleyne and her family rent a Mattapan apartment and have few options to buy or lease solar panels or use other renewable power sources. But as natives of Barbados, both she and her husband know the threat that global warming poses to island nations and coastal communities like Boston.

On the web Households can apply to JOE-4-SUN online at: “It’s totally bad down there,” said Alleyne of climate-change devastation in the Windward Islands, which she left 14 years ago to move to the Hub to join her husband. “The temperatures have increased and the storms have gotten worse.” So when Alleyne learned of a new initiative to provide both access to renewable power and savings on electricity bills, she jumped at the chance.

“I would definitely use solar because it’s much better and more efficient, but I’m renting — it’s not my house,” said Alleyne, a certified nursing assistant, whose husband, Jeffrey, works at Logan Airport. The Alleyne family got help in the past from energy programs run by Citizens Energy Corporation, a Boston-based non-profit founded in 1979 by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II. She recently became one of the first subscribers to JOE-4-SUN, which connects income-eligible families to large ground-mounted solar arrays built in rural or suburban areas of the state.

The Alleyne household, which includes a teenage daughter, will now save $300 on their annual electric bill and reduce their carbon footprint through the Citizens Energy program, the largest Low-Income Community Shared Solar initiative in Massachusetts. Close to 2,000 Bay State families who sign up this fall will benefit from the guaranteed electricity savings program.

“I am grateful for the help, a little bit along the way goes really far,” said Alleyne.

JOE-4-SUN works by providing green energy credits produced by five utility-scale solar farms to households already receiving discount rates from the Eversource or National Grid utilities. Families receive the benefit for at least 12 months atop their utility discounts. Over the course of its 20-year lifespan, the groundbreaking program will save 35,000 Massachusetts families in need upwards of $10 million — while also empowering them to take part in the renewable energy revolution. All without requiring rooftop panels or leasing agreements.

“We are proud to bring the promise of the renewable energy revolution to those in need,” said Kennedy, at the program’s launch in August. “There are too many people in Washington that don’t even think that global warming is real. They are climate change deniers. But it’s no joke when the temperature rises to over 100 degrees. People suffer and people die. And we can do something about that by using renewable power to reduce our carbon footprint. At the same time, we can make this new technology available to those in need by lowering their electric costs.”

Also at the August launch event, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who sponsored the legislation that paved the way for JOE-4-SUN, said the program “is a natural extension of the work that Joe Kennedy has been doing for over 40 years.” Building on a legacy of philanthropy and innovation, JOE-4-SUN aims to address energy needs at a critical time of transition in the U.S. energy economy, said DeLeo.

“I really appreciate all of Citizens Energy’s programs,” said Alleyne. “When I heard about JOE-4-SUN, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I will definitely sign up.’”