HBCU’s Clean Energy Initiative installs no-cost solar for low-income residents in North Carolina

HBCU solar installation

The Clean Energy Initiative (CEI) of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition (HBCU CDAC), is bringing more cost-efficient solar savings, clean energy access, and advanced energy technology to underserved residential neighborhoods. These 14 no-cost solar systems are all installed on owner-occupied low-to-moderate-income homes, with installations by Southern Energy Management, utilizing SolarEdge inverter and monitoring technologies.

“Central to CDAC’s mission and work is a partnership engagement model that prioritizes relationships that empower HBCUs, MSIs, and their affiliated organizations as partners, beneficiaries, and ultimate stewards of sustainable green communities,” stated Henry Golatt, Chief of Strategy and Partnerships, HBCU Clean Energy Initiative. “Our work, in this regard, in North Carolina and other markets has allowed us to stress test that model and we are now moving forward to bring our efforts to full scale.”

To date, 10 solar systems have been installed in Greensboro, NC with four installations in progress in Winston-Salem, NC. These projects are part of a national initiative spearheaded by HBCU CDAC, which was charged by the Department of Energy (DOE) to increase awareness and equitable access to clean energy solutions through the direct engagement of the nation’s HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).

“The disparities and inequities are clear,” stated Karen Soares, Director of the HBCU Clean Energy Initiative. “It is imperative that our most vulnerable neighborhoods in Greensboro, NC, and across the country have access to clean energy and advanced technology solutions that will bring about cost savings and are supportive of balancing growth, equity, and environmental injustices.”

“The system is running great! I believe I have the lowest bill I can get,” stated Victoria C., homeowner in Greensboro, NC. “We officially feel like we live off the grid. The bill has gone down literally 90%. I’m very thankful and grateful for this energy saving system and your entire team and partnership!”

In the Spring and Summer of 2021, HBCU CDAC identified HBCU North Carolina A&T (NCA&T) University in the City of Greensboro as the first university for community-based deployment in North Carolina.

Southern Energy Management (SEM), was chosen as a local installation partner through HBCU CDAC’s evaluation process, due to its status as a Certified B Corporation, the company’s 20 years of experience with the local solar industry, and its good working relationship with local community partners.

“Our efforts with HBCU CDAC & SolarEdge are not only helping move the needle for North Carolina’s clean energy industry, but reducing the gap in clean energy access. We are thrilled to expand our collaboration with this innovative program, where we can increase homeowners’ access to clean, affordable energy and create cost-savings solutions in the communities that need it most.” Bob Kingery, co-founder and CEO of Southern Energy Management.

Each installation includes SolarEdge optimizers, inverters, and consumption and production monitoring applications, allowing homeowners to track solar usage and savings in real-time. By aggregating the SolarEdge monitoring data, HBCU CDAC will be able to demonstrate measurable impact within the community and advocate for funding to grow the program across the country. The systems that are completed so far are covering an average of 76% of the homeowner’s electricity usage through May of this year.

It’s interesting to know how much electricity you use and because we don’t know what we’ve been doing in the past,” stated Lynn B., homeowner in Winston Salem, NC “So, we never know what we use, and we just go by what Duke (our energy provider) tells us. But, now we can actually go and see what we’re using. One of the cool things that I love about it too is being able to sync it with my bills.”

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