051117_Solar

Pictured is an example of the solar power tree that a Brunswick team competing in a solar power challenge is considering to provide solar energy to low to moderate income families in Brunswick.

Provided photo

A team that includes the city of Brunswick and Georgia Power was selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar in Your Community Challenge in an effort to make solar energy accessible to those in the low-to-moderate income communities.

Called PUREBrunswick, the team also includes PURE Cities — an organization with a focus on climate justice and sustainable development — the Roosevelt Lawrence Community Center and the Boys and Girls Club.

“We are thrilled that our team was selected to join the challenge,” said Djuan Coleon of PURE Cities located in Atlanta. “Our project will benefit the people of the city of Brunswick and the Golden Isles and increase the area’s solar energy by producing 100 kilowatts of solar power, demonstrate an innovative new business model that can scale nationwide and also demonstrate that solar is a viable option for low and moderate (income) residents in our state.”

Teams are located across the country, but Brunswick will join just one other team from Georgia in the challenge.

Participating teams are competing for $1 million in final prizes, which includes a $500,000 grand prize for successfully demonstrating a reproducible and scalable model for low income solar power.

Additionally, selected teams will receive seed funding totaling $2 million and will benefit from technical assistance, resources and mentoring with an additional $2 million. Seed money of up to $60,000 per team will be disbursed in increments based on completed milestones over the 18-month challenge.

“We will get seed money this month and start our process in June,” Coleon said.

PUREBrunswick will use the Roosevelt Lawrence Community Center as the work base for its solar project.

“We’re not sure if the focus will be on the Teen Center’s roof or if it will be a land project,” Coleon said. “We will have to see what we will use. We’ve committed to doing 100 kilowatts of solar (power),” Coleon added. “Brunswick already utilizes some solar energy. We’re trying to make it so more people, and especially those with low to moderate incomes, have access as well. The first step is getting a permit to do the work and then we will go from there. We have until 2019 to complete our projects.”

The solar power PUREBrunswick creates will benefit both the nonprofit organizations and low-income members living in the community around the Roosevelt Lawrence center.

The city has a poverty rate of 42 percent. The goal is to ensure low-to-moderate communities, specifically the public housing communities, have access to solar power. LED lighting will also be added, along with community gardens and public Wi-Fi.

Youth who are part of the teen center and the Boys and Girls Club will have an opportunity to learn how renewable energy works in connection with sustainable development.

“The city of Brunswick is excited to partner with Pure Cities and the Department of Energy to bring a cheaper energy alternative to our great citizens,” said Travis Stegall, the city’s economic and community development director.