Citizens Energy Corporation and offshore wind developer Vineyard Wind today formally announced a Resiliency and Affordability Fund that will contribute $1 million in annual funding for 15 years to provide substantial and self-sustaining low-income and community benefits to towns that host the off-shore wind project.
The Vineyard Wind Resiliency and Affordability Fund will fund distributed battery energy storage and solar projects in local communities as well as provide credits directly to low-income ratepayers’ electric utility bills. Projects supported by the Fund will be implemented in New Bedford, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Barnstable and Yarmouth and across Bristol County. Projects will include solar and energy storage projects and will demonstrate how decentralized battery energy storage will enhance reliability as Massachusetts continues to expand renewable energy resources such as offshore wind.
“We are proud to work with Vineyard Wind to spread the benefits of renewable energy to low-income families and host communities,” said Citizens Energy CEO Pete Smith. “We have a deep commitment to helping households in need and advancing the cause of renewable energy. Our partnership with Vineyard Wind allows us to accomplish both.”
“Vineyard Wind deeply appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with Citizens Energy,” said Erich Stephens, chief development officer with Vineyard Wind. “Partnerships with social enterprises like Citizens will help ensure that wind energy off the coast of Massachusetts creates new economic development opportunities, increases community investment, and delivers clean energy that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions while enhancing energy security and reliability.”
Vineyard Wind’s first contribution to the Fund is planned for 2019, once construction of the offshore wind project begins; the project will be the first commercial scale offshore wind project in the US. Through the Resiliency and Affordability Fund, Citizens Energy will immediately benefit host communities through an initial contribution of $500,000, which will be deployed as a revolving loan fund for energy efficiency improvements to multi-family, low-income housing in the host communities. The Fund will deliver significant and on-going benefits to these communities in the form of bill-credits for low-income residents’ electricity bills, and back-up power and cost savings for public buildings.
Direct benefits of the Resiliency and Affordability Fund include:
In its work with Vineyard Wind, Citizens Energy will draw on nearly 40 years’ experience in energy efficiency work, renewable energy development and low-income energy assistance programs. The Fund will be administered by, and projects implemented by, Citizens Energy and Vineyard Wind’s community partner, Vineyard Power. An advisory committee, composed of representatives from each of the host communities, will help identify new project opportunities and guide funding decisions.