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Solar credits coming to low-income residents in Newton

As many as 1,250 Newton residents will see modest savings on their energy bills next year due to a new initiative that will provide solar credits to low-income residents.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren announced Newton’s Community Solar Share Initiative Wednesday, and said the partnership with Eversource and Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) is intended to promote economic mobility while reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

“This will provide a modest relief to the people who need it the most in our city,” Warren said. “We have launched a unique initiative that has the potential to serve as a model for other cities in the Commonwealth and in the country.”

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The program will use energy from the solar paneled carport currently being constructed over the Department of Public Works parking lot at 70 Elliot Street. The panels will generate energy that goes into the power grid, and, in exchange for this power, Newton will receive net metering credits that can be used to lower the cost of energy.

The current estimate of the allocated credits is between $40,000 and $60,000 per year. Newton will keep about 60 percent of the credits, and will allocate about 40 percent to low-income households. The credits the city retains will cover the costs of credits shared with residents.

This means participants will save $40 to $60 on their energy bills each year, depending on how many households take part. The canopy is also projected to result in $2,000 in net savings for the city each year. The program is open to any Newton resident or household that receives the electric discount rate from Eversource, and all participating households will get an equal share of the credits.

ABCD has identified about 1,250 households that are eligible, and will send letters to notify them in the next 10 days. All households are automatically eligible, but can send a letter notifying the city of their decision to “opt out.”

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If a family chooses to take part, their electronic account number will be sent to the city, which will send a list of the participants to Eversource in December. Construction for the solar paneled carport at Elliot Street is scheduled to be completed in January, and participants will see the discount appear on their bills in the next three months.

The Elliot Street carport is part of the city’s broader solar development project. Phase one was completed in 2014, with solar arrays on five school rooftops, totaling approximately 450 kilowatts of solar capacity.

Phase two involves installing panels in 10 spots around the city, and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Both phases are expected to generate $14 million in savings over the next 20 years once they’re complete.


Allison Pohle can be reached at allisonpohle@gmail.com.