Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative has been active in The Triangle neighborhood of North Winton Village, working to improve property conditions, neighborhood image, and resident engagement. Part of the work of Healthy Blocks has been focused on making the neighborhood greener through various projects: tree plantings, clean sweeps, free home energy assessments through Green Jobs/Green New York, connecting residents with loans and grants for energy improvements through New York State’s EMPOWER and Assisted Home Performance programs, and more! Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester has helped neighbors invest more than $63,000 in environmentally-friendly energy improvements in the Triangle neighborhood alone. NeighborWorks® Rochester has also shown a commitment to bringing renewable energy to the City of Rochester and Monroe County. Our organization partnered with ROCSPOT on its last two Solarize the Flower City campaigns, which held public solar orientations and helped hundreds of Rochesterians sign up for free solar audits.
During this time, NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to partner with the Rochester Area Community Foundation, NeighborWorks® America, and GRID Alternatives to fund and implement 5 free rooftop solar installations to low-to-moderate-income families in the City of Rochester. This pilot program, the first of its kind in the City of Rochester, also includes a workforce development portion, where students in community college solar programs can participate in the installation of the panels and earn a certificate that indicates real job experience to potential employers. Using this model, the first two installations were completed on City homes in November of 2015.
At the close of 2016, NeighborWorks® Rochester celebrated the third installation—on a home in its very own Healthy Blocks neighborhood! Julie and Pat Boswell—pictured with baby Carey and pup Ava—received their 10 solar panels on December 21st from installers they describe as efficient and professional. The panels, which have a lifespan of 20 years, will save the Boswells $40/month in utility bills. Combined with the energy-efficiency improvements they received through the EMPOWER program, their monthly bill will be significantly lowered, helping both the environment and their bottom line. “I never thought this could happen,” says Julie. “I never would have thought this was an option if NeighborWorks® hadn’t reached out to us.”
GRID Alternatives is in the process of identifying and scheduling the final two low-mod solar installations, which are slated to be completed by spring of this year.
ROCSPOT, an organization devoted to the implementation of solar technology to create jobs and reduce poverty in Rochester, announced today that that Solarize the Flower City 2016 is one of 31 Solarize campaigns across the State beginning this spring. Solarize the Flower City 2016 will kick off with a launch event on March 20, where local and state leaders will come together to celebrate with ROCSPOT, NeighborWorks® Rochester and other partners, and the local community. Governor Cuomo announced the program awards on February 19, funded through Community Solar NY, a NYSERDA program.
As a component of the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy and NY-Sun program, Community Solar NY makes implementing solar easier and more affordable by supporting locally-organized community outreach aimed at getting a critical mass of area homes and businesses to install solar and obtain competitive pricing, thereby lowering the cost. Historically, Solarize campaigns lower the cost of solar 10 to 20 percent.
Solarize the Flower City 2016 will be selecting designated solar installers using a thorough pre-qualification process. Residents and businesses who sign up for solar installations by September 15, 2016, will be able to take advantage of group rates below market prices. The more customers who sign up, the lower the price will be for everyone.
“New York is blazing the trail when it comes to transitioning to sustainable energy practices and building a clean energy economy,” said Governor Cuomo. “By helping communities across the state install solar technologies, we are opening the door to new opportunities that will lower household energy costs while protecting the environment years into the future.” “I am proud to partner with ROCSPOT and support the Solarize the Flower City Campaign,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “The citizens of Rochester are committed to protecting the environment and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Developing more sustainable and more affordable methods of energy production through solar power will play a critical role in that effort and help us create more jobs, safer more vibrant neighborhoods and provide all of our children with a quality education.” “More so now than ever before, the Finger Lakes Region is on the cutting edge of green and renewable energy development, with solar technology being an important part of the equation,” said Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport). “I thank ROCSPOT, NYSERDA, and all partners involved in Solarize the Flower City for helping to make solar generation more affordable and accessible for both residents and employers alike across our community.”
Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester said: “NeighborWorks® Rochester is excited to be a partner in the Solarize the Flower City 2016 campaign. Increasing Rochester’s solar capacity, and decreasing household energy usage, will help to reposition our community both by supporting households struggling to meet energy costs, as well as neighborhoods looking to become more sustainable”.
Additional partners and participants include NYSERDA, the Town of Brighton and the Town of Irondequoit.
Solarize the Flower City 2016 is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative as well as the City of Rochester, through the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Five Cities Energy Plan program. Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun will invest up to $1 billion in solar power through 2023 to significantly expand solar installations across the State, ultimately transforming New York’s solar industry to become self-sustaining. The City of Rochester is investing over $800,000 from the NYPA Five Cities program for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, positioning itself as a leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation.