Vermont’s Innovation Center in Burlington has launched a unique community solar project on its rooftop. The project, the first initiated by Sun Shares, allows employees in its workplace to buy into the project to offset their power use at home.
“Vermont’s progressive renewable energy policies, forward-thinking distribution utilities, and socially-conscious employers make the Green Mountain State a fertile place to cultivate the Sun Shares approach,” said David Hill, Sun Shares Project Lead and Distributed Resources Director at VEIC. “Employers are in a position to make the benefits of renewable energy accessible to employees of all income levels who might otherwise be unable to afford to participate, providing a valuable benefit to employees while at the same time supporting their own corporate sustainability goals.”
Most community solar projects are built somewhere offsite and offered through a utility or community solar provider, allowing people to buy or lease a part of the solar farm. But the 200 kilowatt solar project on the rooftop is being offered to Innovation Center employers and employees. Already more than 35 people in the Burlington Electric Department’s service territory in the Innovation Center have enrolled in the project.
Sun Shares was launched by Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) to offer community solar projects through the workplace by partnering with employers, facility owners and local electric utilities. It offers all employees a chance to invest in solar power regardless of where they live and what they make and they don’t have to sign onto a long-term contract.
“The Innovation Center is a fitting site for this first-of-its-kind program. It increases the value of this space to our tenants who are looking for new ways to engage with their employees and offer innovative benefits to attract top talent,” said Hank Stevens on behalf of Innovation Center owner Fortieth Burlington. “With support from Sun Shares, the details of sizing and overseeing installation of the solar panels, coordinating with BED, and lining up employee participants was all taken care of, making the final decision to make this investment very straightforward.”
Sun Shares plans to offer two more systems in the next year and knowledge gained from the first projects to expand the program in the future. The company is looking for three things in a project, capital investors, employers and employees interested the project and an electric utility.Tweet