Solarize Delco has a memorandum of understanding with a local energy installation company to provide a discount to property owners and volume incentives.
“The more people that build in a particular year, the steeper the discounts. They come at the end of the year in the form of a rebate,” Puglionesi said.
The group assisted with 14 contracts in 2020, according to Romano. This year, it is aiming for 20 contracts; the count stands at nine so far.
And with the recent project at the church, Solarize Delco has already surpassed its 2020 tally of total kilowatts of solar panels installed. Smyth is a member of the church and helped manage the process from both sides.
“My message to folks is it’s time to take action to reduce our emissions as a society. We’ve warmed the planet past where it’s safe anymore, and it’s just going to get worse. So it’s time to take action,” Smyth said.
The county’s interest in Solarize Delco’s work is relatively new, according to the volunteers, and they pointed to Delco’s pivot toward sustainability as the source.
County Council flipped from Republican to Democratic control in 2019’s election. Schaefer said the new leadership brought a whole new approach to looking at government operations.
“We would like sustainability to be an overarching theme of everything we do. When we first came in, our executive director, Howard Lazarus, suggested that we hire a chief sustainability officer, who oversees many of our departments,” Schaefer said.
In 2020, the council passed a resolution establishing a sustainability commission to develop a plan for Delaware County. Soon after that, the council appointed Francine Locke, who previously worked as the director of sustainability and green schools for the School District of Philadelphia, as the county’s chief sustainability officer. She officially began her work in January.
In addition to working with the sustainability commission, Locke now oversees six departments: planning and the Office of Housing and Community Development; public works; facilities management; fleet management; parks and recreation; and the conservation district.
“The overall gist of it is to create a more sustainable and resilient Delaware County, and that includes at the government level, county government, municipal government — what individuals can also do to be more sustainable,” Locke said.
The sustainability plan the county is developing will have a climate action component, too.
“Right now, we’re collecting data on baseline for all of our county-owned buildings with regards to energy consumption, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. And from that baseline information, we’re going to start developing targets,” Locke said.