From the start, the goal of Neighborhood Sun has been to build more community, not to create new customers. We aimed to do this by using community solar as a vehicle to bring change to communities overlooked or exploited by the clean energy industry, and to redress and repair the toxic legacy left by decades of environmental racism. As we approach the second anniversary of our start of operations, we’ve got a lot to be proud of in terms of reaching our community goals: We have partnered with more than 50 local organizations within the communities that we serve and have contributed more than $50,000 to help them pursue their missions. We have subscribed close to 3,000 Maryland households and saved these families more than $100,000 on their electricity bills while cleanly producing the same amount of electricity generated by 4 million pounds of coal.
However, there is one thing we wanted to do from the beginning that we have not accomplished – until now. Today I’m proud to announce we are creating a Neighbor Benefit Fund ™ to provide aid to those who need help paying their electric bills. I’m so excited about the Neighbor Benefit Fund™ because it strikes to the core of what we are about. We are a company on a mission to bring the benefits of solar to everyone, not just the select few. The benefits of solar include cleaner air, less greenhouse gases, and central to everything – lower energy costs.
How we bring these benefits is almost as important as the actual benefits themselves. We aim to strengthen communities by bringing together diverse groups of people who share a common cause. Members of our community can help one another learn about a more sustainable lifestyle, lobby for progressive legislation, support good causes, and build economic resilience. Low and moderate Marylanders pay a much higher proportion of their family budget towards energy bills. Energy equity requires us to help reduce those costs so working families can put more money towards the things that matter.
Our Neighbor Benefit Fund ™has the potential to be a model that will be copied nationwide, dramatically increasing its positive impacts. The first step is for Neighborhood Sun to seed the fund – we will be donating 1% of our revenue to the fund each month. Then we’ll open it for people who need assistance to apply. As we gain traction and build the Fund we’ll open it to our community members, including all our solar partners to contribute as well. We want to have a one-two punch to knock out high energy bills for people. Community solar to lower their bill coupled with our Neighbor Benefit Fund grants. That will be a winning combination!
Thank you to everyone who is helping us build a stronger solar community.