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Low-income rooftop solar program goes active

January 17, 2013|By ANTOINE ABOU-DIWAN | Staff Writer
  • Joseph Kennedy II discusses Citizens Energy Corp.'s solar homes project at Jo Ann Rodrigues Finley's residence Thursday in El Centro.
ANTOINE ABOU-DIWAN PHOTO

El Centro resident Jo Ann Rodrigues Finley may be able set her home’s thermostat below 83 degrees Fahrenheit this summer, when temperatures will go above 110 and stay there for months.

Finley is the beneficiary of Citizens Energy Corp.’s solar homes project, which was unveiled at her home Thursday. The program aims to reduce energy bills for low-income residents through the use of rooftop solar collection systems.

She is the first Valley resident to receive such a system free of charge, and if all goes according to plan, it will slash her electricity bill by 50 to 80 percent, depending on estimates. 

Citizens Energy Corp., a nonprofit, is a partner with San Diego Gas & Electric on the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, and is using proceeds from the line to fund the program. The group hopes to install rooftop solar electricity systems on 100 to 200 homes per year for the next 30 years, and to do so with local labor, said company founder and former Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy II.

The Imperial Irrigation District helped with the project.

“Our role was to help with the interconnection process, to get a bi-directional meter installed,” said IID spokeswoman Marion Champion.

The IID also installed weatherization material, to make Finley’s home more energy efficient. Finley was also enrolled in the IID’s Residential Energy Assistance Program, which cuts qualifying low-income residents’ electricity bills by 20 percent, Champion said.

Finley said her electricity bill averages about $350 per month.

“You have no idea, Mr. Kennedy, what this does for me on a fixed income,” Finley said, thanking him for the program.

For more information:

Imperial Valley residents who think they may qualify for the Citizens Energy Corporation’s Solar Homes project can check www.citizensenergy.com or 1-855-467-8646.

Staff Writer Antoine Abou-Diwan can be reached at 760-337-3454 or aabou-diwan@ivpressonline.com

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