TRANSFORMATIVE CLIMATE COMMUNITIES
Groundwork Elizabeth Engages City Partners on Community Solar Grant Opportunity
Jonathan Phillips, Executive Director / Groundwork Elizabeth
In the Spring of 2023, Rutgers University awarded Groundwork Elizabeth a grant from the Transformative Climate Communities pilot program to help us pursue our newest initiative. The grant supported our organization in leading a community-driven initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by helping to advance solar energy in Elizabeth, a city whose people are challenged with social and economic inequities and overburdened by the impacts of climate change.
There are various reasons why someone may bypass solar energy. Causes could include rental vs homeowner status, cost of panel installation, nonoptimal orientation of the building or site, or other obstacles. Community solar provides a path to help people realize energy cost savings and reduce their carbon footprint.
Our organization sought to learn about the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Community Solar Energy Program grant opportunity, better understand the program’s benefits for our city’s low- and moderate-income residents, and identify potential grant applicants within Elizabeth, focusing on large-scale residential and commercial buildings. Throughout the process, we benefited from the guidance and support from staff at the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center and technical assistance provided by Simran Singh, a graduate research assistant at Rutgers. Our team studied successful applications to the NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) from a previous grant funding round and considered who in Elizabeth we might want to engage and brief on the opportunity. We met with long-time partners, including the Elizabeth Development Company, the City of Elizabeth, the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth, and private residential and commercial developers, providing them with information on the benefits of community solar and BPU’s program. In addition, we posted information on the topic to our website and shared information with the Elizabeth Development Company.
In addition to these efforts, we reached out to Elizabeth’s youth leaders to share this education with them on community solar power. Led by Sarah Sosa, leader of Elizabeth’s Mayor’s Youth Council, Groundwork Elizabeth staff members John Evangelista and Jackie Park Albaum, we tied our outreach on community solar into our ongoing advocacy campaign, Climate Safe Elizabeth, underscoring the need to adopt the use of alternative energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions locally and globally.
Finally, we met with Dimension Renewable Energy, a developer, owner, and operator of community solar solutions, to discuss our engagement efforts and hear about their work and interests. Groundwork Elizabeth hopes to connect Dimension with our local partners soon.
Although the Transformative Climate Communities grant period ended, Groundwork Elizabeth intends to continue its effort in support of community solar for Elizabeth. If you want to learn more about the topic and potential opportunities or seek advice on applying for the Board of Public Utilities Community Solar Energy Program, please call Groundwork Elizabeth at 908-289-0262 x. 203 or send an email to email@example.com.
You can also follow our efforts by visiting our website at www.groundworkelizabeth.org and social media sites: Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GWElizabeth, Instagram at groundworkelizabeth, and Twitter at @gwelizabeth.