An initiative was launched Friday to provide solar panels to low- and moderate-income homeowners in the city of Kingston.
Officials, including those from RUPCO, a low-income housing provider leading the initiative, gathered at 34 Fairview Ave., to announce the program’s kickoff.
The initiative uses funding from a variety of sources to significantly offset the cost of solar panel installations for homeowners who meet income guidelines. RUPCO, which has partnered with solar-panel installer GRID Alternatives, has enough funding to install in panels at 10 homes, according Michael D’Arcy, RUPCO’s manager of the Green Jobs Green New York program.
RUPCO has secured some of the funding from NeighborWorks America. Other funding comes from state agencies, including the New York State Energy Research Development Agency.
On Friday, members of Ulster County YouthBuild were helping to install solar panels at 34 Fairview Ave., the first of the 10 homes targeted for the program.
Mayor Steve Noble, who said he installed solar panels at his own home about three years ago, said RUPCO’s program will go a long way to help people on low and moderate incomes to reduce their utility bills. Noble said he hasn’t paid an electric bill since converting to solar energy.
Noble said the solar program is designed so that income-eligible people who “want to go solar can and be able to do it very, very inexpensively.”
According to a press release, potential applicants must be on a fixed income or earn less than 80 percent of the area median income. For a family of three, that amounts to $56,704, officials said.
In the case of the Fairview Avenue home, D’Arcy said that the installation cost $17,000. But with various funding applied to that, the ultimate cost to the homeowner was $1,500.
Kevin O’Connor, who is RUPCO’s chief executive officer, said the program fits in well with his agency’s overall mission.
“The cost of utilities has always been an exasperating factor in terms of housing costs,” O’Connor said.
GRID Alternatives Tri-State Executive Director Peter Mandelstam said the non-profit company has participated in 7,000 solar installations in the United States and Latin America. The group has trained more than 27,000 people on how to do installations, Mandelstam said.
Bonnie Landi, executive director of Ulster County YouthBuild, said that kind of training can be invaluable, especially given the rise of solar popularity.
“It is ... an opportunity for jobs in a growth industry,” Landi said.