Rare Launches SHINE Community Solar Initiative to Bring Green Jobs, Lower Energy Bills to Greater Boston’s Underserved Communities
In partnership with leading Boston-based anti-poverty and community development organizations, SHINE brings solar jobs and renewable energy to these marginalized neighborhoods
Developed as part of Rare’s Climate Culture program, initially introduced in Boston in 2022, the SHINE initiative will be funded by two grants recently awarded to Rare, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Community Power Accelerator Prize, which fast-tracks the efforts of new, emerging, and expanding solar developers and co-developers, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC)’s Equity Workforce Training Implementation grant, which will support the first two cohorts of 20 students each through SHINE’s job training program and provide wraparound support services as well as job placement after graduating.
“For too long, our most vulnerable communities have disproportionately borne the brunt of climate change, and it is essential for environmental, racial, and economic justice initiatives to work together to disrupt this unjust status quo,” said Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts Congresswoman. “The SHINE initiative is at the intersection of this work and will empower more Bostonians to take part in sustainable energy initiatives, access jobs in the high-paying clean energy sector and help us meet our climate goals. I’m grateful to Rare and our partners at ABCD for launching this important initiative.”
“In order to reach our state’s climate goals, we need a strong, dynamic, and inclusive clean energy workforce. Our administration is proud to support innovative projects that stand at the intersection of the climate crisis, environmental justice, and economic development,” said Governor Maura T. Healey. “Programs like SHINE empower our communities and residents to actively join this clean energy transition by creating pathways that offer accessible entry points into valuable careers and support our workforce needs.”
Neighborhoods in Greater Boston identified by the Department of Energy (DOE) as Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) face energy burdens of close to or more than 6%, which is twice the statewide average in Massachusetts. SHINE will increase access to solar energy and solar job opportunities in several DACs through a four-pronged strategy:
- Recruit, train, and support job placement in the solar industry through a solar technician training program for under and unemployed residents, creating pathways to solar industry careers and enhancing the workforce required to achieve the Commonwealth’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan.
- Reduce the utility bills of energy-burdened communities by expanding the households who can sign up for “community solar” at discounted rates that brings the benefits of solar incentives to residents who may not be eligible for rooftop solar.
- Increase community solar generation capacity within marginalized communities, providing locally produced resilient power while making community solar visible—a key behavioral strategy to encourage adoption.
- Bring electrified transportation to more communities by utilizing local community solar facilities to support the charging of e-bikes and e-scooters with the potential for EV car-sharing or non-residential EV charging, enhancing residents’ ability to get to their new clean energy jobs.
“There is an urgent need for replicable, scalable programs to benefit people and the environment, so there has never been a more appropriate time for an initiative like SHINE, which will invoke community pride and involvement to accelerate climate action and improve equitable access to solar energy,” said Frank Lowenstein, Senior Director of Rare’s Climate Culture Boston program. “Rare believes that the shift in social norms around climate change can occur swiftly when people see their peers adopt climate-positive behaviors. One person’s shift can rapidly become community adoption. In this case, we can use that principle of behavior science to lower bills, produce more jobs, and create a brighter future for the Boston area communities that need those benefits the most.”
For SHINE’s Boston introduction, Rare is partnering with prominent economic development and solar advocacy groups including the aforementioned leading community action agency, Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), which provides residents with the tools and resources needed to transition from poverty through a comprehensive multitude of services such as early education and childcare, energy, workforce development, food stability, housing, health services and youth and elder programs; Children’s Services of Roxbury (CSRox), one of Massachusetts’ largest Black-run nonprofits, bringing peace of mind to the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children and families, and developing the next generation of young leaders; Robert Wallace’s Power52 training approach that aims to break the cycle of poverty, unemployment, and underemployment in our urban communities across the nation through economic empowerment and clean energy access; and Resonant Energy, a mission driven, Boston-based solar energy company.
“The SHINE initiative centers on community-based development that will set all underserved neighborhoods of Boston up for economic and environmental success,” said Sharon Scott-Chandler, ABCD President & CEO. “These communities have long faced socioeconomic barriers preventing many residents from achieving stability. The SHINE initiative puts an inclusive antipoverty strategy at the forefront of its mission, which supports economic equity at the individual level and benefits the community. The initiative will create greater access to renewable energy in low-income communities and will support opportunities in the renewable energy workforce.”
For more information about SHINE, please visit: https://rare.org/program/climate-culture/solar-helping-ignite-neighborhood-economies-shine/.
Rare is an international non-profit organization specializing in social change for people and the planet. For nearly 50 years, Rare has partnered with individuals, communities, and local leaders on the frontlines of conservation to promote the adoption of sustainable practices. With a behavior-based approach, Rare empowers individuals and communities to better manage and protect nature, on which all of us depend. Learn more at rare.org.
A nonprofit community action organization, ABCD provides underserved residents of Boston and the Mystic Valley area with the tools, support, and resources they need to transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success. Each year, the organization serves more than 100,000 individuals, elders, and families through a broad range of innovative initiatives as well as long-established, proven programs and services. For 60 years, ABCD has been deeply rooted in every neighborhood and community served, empowering individuals and families and supporting them in their quest to live with dignity and achieve their highest potential. For more information, please visit bostonabcd.org.