Category Archives: Solar for Lower-Income Households

State’s Low-Income Community Solar Demo Serves As A National Model

By Joseph Bebon, Solar Industry Magazine

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and nonprofit solar installer GRID Alternatives Colorado have announced the completion of a two‐year partnership focused on demonstrating the benefits of community solar for low‐income communities across the state. In 2015, CEO granted GRID $1.2 million to work with rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to develop accessible, affordable community solar models that provide meaningful bill savings to subscribed customers and reduce household energy burden.

In Colorado, approximately 30% of households – many located in rural areas – are considered energy burdened, meaning they pay more than 4% of their income on utility bills. Of that 30% in Colorado, 11% are considered energy impoverished, paying more than 10% of their income on utility bills. Continue reading.

Photo Credit: GRID Alternatives

Six Recommendations for Bringing Solar to Low-Income Households

By Bentham Paulos, Clean Energy States Alliance. Posted by GovTech

The declining cost of solar energy is creating opportunities for all Americans to save money on their energy bills. And no one needs to save money more than low-income consumers, who pay a much higher portion of their income for energy than do other consumers.

But as the saying goes, it takes money to save money. Low-income consumers face barriers that others don’t. They are often renters or live in multifamily housing — and lack ownership of their roofs. They may have little to no savings that can be used to buy solar systems, and low credit scores or a lack of credit history may impede their ability to finance a system. Continue reading.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers: A Guide for States and Municipalities

Clean Energy States Alliance has just published a new guide, Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers, which outlines the obstacles that low-income households face in accessing solar power. It  provides a detailed overview of strategies that policymakers and government agencies can use to encourage low-income solar adoption.
Watch the companion webinar this Thursday.

New! Solar+Storage for Low- and Moderate-Income Communities: A Guide for States and Municipalities

By Todd Olinsky-Paul, Clean Energy States Alliance

This guide seeks to provide state and municipal officials with information to develop effective solar and battery storage (solar+storage) policies and programs that benefit low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. It explores a range of policy approaches that have been successfully employed and provides program examples from states that have made LMI access to these technologies a priority. Download the report.

Author and CESA Projects Director Todd Olinsky-Paul discussed the report in a recent webinar. Watch it here.

Updated low-income solar guide designed to accelerate deployment

By Frank Andorka, PV Magazine

National non-profits GRID Alternatives  and Vote Solar  have updated their online tool, the Low-Income Solar Policy Guide, which they first released last year as a one-stop resource for those interesting in democratizing solar energy. Read more here.

Low-Income Solar.Org

ALSO IN THE NEWS

New NREL Resources on Increasing Low- and Moderate-Income Access to Solar

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Solar Technical Assistance Team (STAT) recently published two resources on making solar electricity more accessible for low- and -moderate income households.

  • One of these resources, a blog post authored by NREL’s Alison Holm titled “Solar for Everyone: Increasing Low- and Moderate-Income (LMI) Populations’ Access to Solar Power,” is available here.
  • The other resource is on the basics of low- and moderate-income solar policy and can be accessed here.

State and local governments interested in targeted solar technical assistance, including information about making solar more accessible for low and moderate-income households, can learn more and apply here.

Nebraskans for Solar’s October 12th Public Forum: The Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership

erin-cheese2The Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership will be the topic of discussion on October 12th for Nebraskans for Solar’s first in a series of fall events at UNO’s Community Engagement Center. Erin Cheese, Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, graduate of Creighton University’s Energy Technology Program, and former Nebraskans for Solar Board member for two years will discuss the National Community Solar Partnership and how Nebraskans can get involved.

The partnership works to expand access to community solar throughout the nation, especially in low- and moderate-income households. On July 19, 2016, the White House announced a new goal to enable 1 GW of low- and moderate-income solar by 2020. Nebraskans for Solar is a member of the National Community Solar Partnership. Included in Erin’s talk will be information on joining the National Community Solar Partnership and the benefits. Learn more and see a list of National Community Solar Partnership members here.

This event, which is open to the public, is co-sponsored by Creighton Energy Club and Green Bellevue. We’ve invited special guests, including government leaders and community solar advocates and developers, and reserved Combined Rooms 201/205/209 at UNO’s Community Engagement Center from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Please save the date and join us! Refreshments will be served. Reserved parking is available in the lot in front of the Community Engagement Center, near the Durham Bell Tower, and adjacent lots.

Q&A: How solar could change the face of low-income energy assistance

Written by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

Jason EdensA north-central Minnesota solar nonprofit is creating a community solar garden for low income residents of a Native American reservation that it believes could become a national model. The 200 kilowatt community solar garden will be built by the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance for low income residents living in the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. It would serve from 100 to 150 families. The nonprofit plans to build the solar garden using money from a $500,000 state grant and then donate it to the tribe. Click to continue reading.

Photo of Jason Edens, Director of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance. Credit: Tom Kelly / Creative Commons

ALSO WRITTEN BY FRANK JOSSI
A low-income St. Paul neighborhood has an ambitious energy plan, Midwest Energy News

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Declining energy sector jobs switching to solar power, Associated Press, The Sacramento Bee
Innovative Model Program: New Jersey’s PSE&G’s Solar 4 All program is turning old landfills and brownfields into solar-generating stations
Consumers Energy Opens Second Community Solar Power Plant on 8,5 acres at Western Michigan University, PR NewsWire
GM Shows That Solar Can Power American Manufacturing, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Blog
Midwest electric cooperatives adding solar energy, Electric Co-ops Today
Racine Solar group purchase set, 18 homes participating, The Journal Times
Why impact investing is great news for renewables, Renewable Energy World

Landmark National Model: New $1 Billion Clean Energy Proposal for Low-Income Renters

Written by Maria Stamas, Project Attorney for Energy & Climate Programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council

NRDC blog

464-kilowatt solar installation on “Park Villas” Multifamily Affordable housing with 268 tenants.

When operational in 2017, the Multifamily Affordable Solar Roofs program (AB 693) would provide up to $1 billion in solar funding over 10 years and will be the first in the country specifically designed to provide low-income renters with (1) increased access to onsite solar-generated electricity and (2) direct economic benefits via solar electricity credits. The law targets installation of 300 megawatts (MW) of solar energy, which, if accomplished, would fully power the equivalent of 75,000 California homes . . . Funded from revenues from California’s cap-and-trade auctions under the state’s pioneering Global Warming Solutions Act, the Affordable Solar Roofs Program (AB 693) will bring the benefits of California’s clean energy policies to communities suffering disproportionately from pollution and provide an economic stimulus in low-income neighborhoods. Read more here.

Clean Power Plan offers chance to right past injustices, advocates say

 By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News
crawford-plant-chicago

Advocates say a little-known provision of the Clean Power Plan could become a powerful tool to advance environmental justice. The Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) is aimed at “removing barriers to investment in energy efficiency and solar measures in low‐income communities,” plus sparking “zero-emitting” renewable energy development, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes it. Continue reading.

Photo: The now-closed Crawford coal plant looms over Chicago neighborhoods in this 2012 photo. Credit: Chris Bentley / Creative Commons

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Bringing Solar to Everyone, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit
Op-Ed by Ryan Evans, President of the Utah Solar Energy Association: Solar energy industry deserves encouragement ‘the Utah way’, Salt Lake Tribune
Wisconsin’s St. Croix Electric Cooperative, Dairyland Adding 15 Megawatts of Solar Energy, Electric
Co-op Today
Pacific Power: Oregon 50% RPS will barely raise customer rates through 2028, Utility Dive
Worthington group planning bulk buys to get deal on solar, The Columbus Dispatch
Johnson County moves forward with solar projects, The Gazette
FERC greenlights Apple’s petition to sell electric power, Utility Dive
Michigan Solar Car defends national title in sweeping victory, University of Michigan
Iowa State University Students Create Solar-Powered Car, Drive It Through South Dakota, KDLT News
Grant helps charge EV technology used at OPPD, The Wire – OPPD Blog
Heartland Community College’s wind turbine has met about 41% of the Illinois school’s energy needs, Pantagraph