Community Solar at LIPC

 

By Christina Lau, LIPC Intern –

On June 13th at the Bethany Presbyterian Church, I attended LIPC’s PowerUp Solar Community Meeting aimed to inform leaders from nonprofit organizations and religious institutions on how to adopt solar in their communities and on their rooftops. Being a new volunteer to LIPC, I was not previously exposed to any of the presenters which overwhelmed but also intrigued me. The first two presenters represented the New York Energy Democracy Alliance (EDA) and discussed how our current energy systems are controlled by multinational corporations that lack accountability. They mentioned that National Grid isn’t even an American company which surprised me. The absence of local input regarding our energy alarmed me, which seemed to be the goal of the EDA. They created the foundation of the meeting and showed the audience why we should care about and question our energy sources.

Following the EDA’s presentation, Resonant Energy and the Long Island Progressive Coalition gave a thorough overview of PowerUp Solar Long Island. They highlighted a startling fact that 80% of Long Island rooftops are commercial, nonprofit, or religious. These rooftops could help fight climate change if they did not face disproportionate barriers to entry than regular households because of their tax exempt status.

Before the meeting, I never knew houses of worship and nonprofits could go solar and I was especially unaware of how much space they dominated on Long Island. I was thus eager to learn about the solutions PowerUp Solar provides to assist those who want to partake in the solar movement but are currently financially unable to. While they spoke about the three main solutions (bulk buying, leveraging tax incentives, and low-cost loan options), they also fielded many questions. I was pleased to witness an engaged audience and learned more from their active participation. People were concerned about costs, upkeep, and whether or not PowerUp would stay involved after installation. The presenters responded that they welcome any follow-up, even questions regarding how to get bird poop off a solar panel. They gladly receive engagement because their goal is to build community relationships not just provide easier access to solar.

PowerUp concluded the meeting by sharing stories and details about their three ongoing projects. I believe this asserted a level a trust among the audience because they could easily identify with these local houses of worship. Before this meeting, I had a vague understanding of the work PowerUp was involved in but now I understand why their endeavor is so crucial. During the presentation everyone was asked to decide their top energy choice and most responded with solar or wind. Likewise, those who already had solar on their homes expressed considerable satisfaction. These events combined exemplify the huge potential of this program because there is no lack of demand, just a lack of financial resources and knowledge which PowerUp can readily supply. It’s clear to me that PowerUp Solar is genuinely dedicated to educating and empowering communities on Long Island to embrace solar as an effective means to combat climate change.

I can’t wait to keep working with LIPC to help communities realize the benefits of locally produced clean energy.

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