Joan Kimball, a longtime resident of Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood, considers herself an environmentalist and is doing her part to help the planet and the city by becoming the 150th homeowner to switch to solar power under a city program.
“It’s going to be the wave of the future,” she said. “We have to go this way. It’s the only way the earth is going to survive. If we get off fossil fuels and use the sun and the wind and water power to help us.”
The change was made possible through Solarize Philly, launched by the Philadelphia Energy Authority in 2017 to make solar energy affordable to local homeowners.
The program purchases solar panel services and equipment in groups to reduce the costs to homeowners. So far, 222 homeowners have contracted to receive solar power since the program began last year.
Laura Rigell, the authority’s solar manager, said the program has garnered interest from 3,500 homeowners from around the city.
She also announced a new program to include low- and moderate-income households.
Typically, homeowners take out a loan to buy the panels, but the new program will lease the panels to moderate income homeowners with the intent of transferring ownership after 15 years.
“We want to support homeowners to take action on climate change and also we know there’s a huge job creation impact from solar installation,” said Rigell.
The program is boasting dozens of new jobs, in addition to a number of opportunities for students.
Solarize’s “Find Your Power” program provides solar job training to high school students.
Alexis Santiago is part of this summer’s cohort, and hopes to incorporate solar energy into his career goals.
“In the future, actually, I see myself as an architect,” said Santiago.
Solarize Energy is part of the Philadelphia Energy Authority’s campaign, which aims to invest $1 billion into energy-efficiency projects and create 10,000 jobs by 2026.
Mayor Jim Kenney says embracing the plan can have a wide range of benefits, especially for the city’s youth.
“Positioning all of our city’s young people to start careers in this growing industry will help address our climate, equity, and economic development goals all at the same time,” he said.