Developer and operator Sol Systems is collaborating with Google on a unique renewable energy procurement and investment strategy. The partnership enables the development of new solar energy projects and supports local communities where the projects are built.
This is the type of creative corporate-community partnership we explored in “Giving tax credit where it is due” in Q4 2022, exploring ways to connect clean energy to lower income communities.
Sol Systems and Google have structured an integrated clean energy investment and procurement strategy for solar projects being developed by Pine Gate Renewables in North and South Carolina. This strategy provides capital to enable 225 MWdc of new solar energy projects and 18 MW of battery storage resources. These assets are being developed in a region with relatively low renewable energy penetration and of specific focus for Google and its 24/7 carbon-free energy goal.
“We are honored to be working with Google, a pioneer in renewable energy procurement and community investment,” said Sol Systems’ CEO Yuri Horwitz. “As they have in the past, they continue to provide leadership and innovation for our industry.”
Alongside this investment, Google and Sol Systems will deploy capital to seed critical investments into regional community organizations that serve under-resourced and minority communities. The investment will focus on reducing energy burden by enabling critical home pre-weatherization and safety upgrades to low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. Four regional organizations will receive initial funding from the partnership: Roanoke Electric Cooperative (N.C.), Santee Electric Cooperative (S.C.), Aiken Electric Cooperative (S.C.) and the Sustainability Institute of South Carolina.
By 2030, Google is aiming for every one of its data centers to operate on clean energy every hour of every day, said Christopher Scott, energy lead for the tech company.
“As we work toward this goal, we are committed to ensuring that the communities where we operate are actively benefiting from the clean energy transition,” said Scott. “We’re excited to partner with Sol Systems to not only bring new solar projects online to one of the most difficult grids to decarbonize but also work with them to help lower the energy burden in under-resourced communities through the clean energy transition.”
Through the partnership with Sol Systems and Google, the Sustainability Institute of South Carolina will provide critical home repairs alongside energy efficiency upgrades for households in under-resourced communities in the Charleston area.
“The investments from the impact funding will result in homes becoming safer and more energy efficient for families and will help reduce energy burden and insecurity in the communities where it is highest,” said Bryan Cordell, executive director, Sustainability Institute of South Carolina.
The Santee Electric Cooperative (SEC) plans to grow its “Help My House” program through the partnership. The program enables homeowners to apply for funding to finance energy efficiency improvements, lowering their power bills. The partnership with Sol Systems and Google will enable SEC to provide funding to support low-income households participating in the “Help My House” program to address relevant critical home repairs and energy efficiency improvements.
“Together, we are working towards a common goal of electrifying home appliances to transition away from kerosene and propane,” said Jay Kirby, VP of public affairs, Santee Electric Cooperative. “As a result, homes will be more efficient, use less energy, and have better air quality and health. This partnership will enable us to expand our reach in helping the communities and families we serve.”
Likewise, Aiken Electric Cooperative (AEC) will be able to continue its mission of powering and empowering local communities through the partnership.
“For 85 years, AEC has provided electricity and various other services to our cooperative members that improve their quality of life,” said Gary Stooksbury, CEO of Aiken Electric Cooperative. “Our goal is to utilize these funds by completing health and safety home repairs and other initiatives for eligible participants of our ‘Help My House’ program. This team effort will make a noticeable difference in the lives of those in our local community, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Through the partnership, Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) will be able to continue to offer its “Upgrade to $ave” program, which enables member-owners to reap savings by making critical repairs and energy efficiency upgrades to homes and businesses without having to make any upfront investment themselves.
“Not only will this support from Sol Systems and Google help us continue our mission to enhance the quality of life and home comfort for residents, but it will also expand our commitment to creating a positive impact within our communities,” said Marshall Cherry, CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative.
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