DC expands solar program that could save some residents hundreds on their electric bills – WTOP

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A D.C. program that’s helping low and moderate-income residents save money on their utility bills every year is expanding, thanks to a more than $62 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Solar for All program, launched in 2016 by Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council, connects residents with “locally-generated community and rooftop solar.” It set a goal of connecting 100,000 low and moderate-income households with solar energy by 2032.

So far, the initiative has helped 9,604 D.C. households reach 37 megawatts of clear solar energy. That, the city said, totals about $5 million in annual utility bill savings.

“It is so valuable, because the households can save at least $500 annually on their utility bills,” D.C. resident Cerise Elaine Turner said. “I used to think solar panels were only for wealthy households.”

Turner learned about the program from a neighbor, she said, whose job involves installing solar panels. The program, she learned, offers some residents solar panels for free. After some research, Turner said she signed up right away.

“What made me interested is the savings,” Turner said. “And, of course, how it benefits our environment.”

The grant, Bowser’s office said in a news release, will help D.C. expand the solar energy to 19,000 households. The money will be allocated across five years, and was granted to the city as part of the EPA’s $7 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund competition. The campaign was created to offer solar to over 900,000 low-income and disadvantaged households across the country.

Beyond the environmental benefits, Thomas Bartholomew with the city’s Department of Energy and Environment said, “paying those fixed costs month after month can be a challenge. We basically try to make that easier.”

“At the end of the month when money is tight, maybe folks can spend a little extra money buying some groceries or other things that they need, because of the savings we’ve helped them achieve,” Bartholomew added.

Eligible residents can apply to be a part of the program online, he said.

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