The pilot project is helping about a half dozen low-to-moderate income homeowners cut their energy costs by installing some cutting-edge technology.
It’s something Kerry Hudson jumped at the chance to try. He’s retired, but still likes to keep up with technology. He uses his computer to log into his Cleveland State University classes.
“Look at what I’m studying,” he said. “African-American History and American Government.”
He said it’s a way for him to stay young, but all the technology takes electricity.
“I’m a senior citizen, and I live alone and my light bill has been, whew, way off the charts,” Hudson said.
With a fixed income only going so far, Hudson said he signed up for the city of Cleveland’s solar panel pilot project in partnership with Solar United Neighbors. His is one of seven low-to-moderate income homes selected to participate.
“It’s the future,” Hudson said. “We’ve gotta accept that now.”
After the panels were installed on his home, his electric bill was $21 for the first month. He said he paid upwards of $100 for regular electricity during his highest usage month last year.
Ward 1 Councilman Joe Jones said Hudson’s his only constituent with solar panels.
“One is a start,” he said. “It’s a good beginning. And hopefully you’ll see them all over the place.”
But Jones said he wants green energy to go even further.
“I would love to see the day when we develop technology where we don’t even need panels,” he said. “Where electricity, you can just pull it from the air.”
The sun is a shining opportunity to Anand Natarajan, energy strategist for the mayor’s office of sustainability.
The panels on Hudson’s roof are connected to a metering system on the side of his home that converts the energy to a format he can use.
“That will help the homeowner get solar energy directly to help some of the consumption,” Natarajan said.
The house isn’t solely solar, it’s still connected to Cleveland Public Power. The amount of energy generated by the panels is tracked and a website shows updated usage. The data can be used by both the homeowner and the city.
“If these panels actually produce more that what the homeowner would need, you can actually send energy to the grid and you can get credits from it,” Natarajan said.
While the solar panels help relieve some of the homeowner’s energy burden, grant funding covered the financial burden of the installation at about $12,000 per home.
Natarajan said he’s hoping federal funds and additional partners can help expand the project to more houses.
“What we’re trying to showcase with this is, it’s solar for all,” he said. ‘It’s green energy for all. And it’s feasible.”