Category Archives: Solar for Lower-Income Households

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  

SAVE THE DATE! Vote Solar & SEIA Webinar: “The White House Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative”

August 17, 2016 – 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. CDT

U.S. Department of Energy

The White House has announced an exciting new initiative: “Clean Energy Savings For All Initiative”. This initiative is a cross-government partnership between the Departments of Energy (DOE), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA), Health and Human Services (HHS), Veteran’s Affairs (VA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is intended to increase access to solar energy and promote energy efficiency across the United States and, in particular in low- and moderate- income communities.

This joint webinar, sponsored by Vote Solar and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), will discuss the initiative opportunity and implementation.

REGISTER HERE

Photo: U.S. Department of Energy

RECOMMENDED READING
White House Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Announces Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative

Why Should Only the Wealthy Get Solar Panels?

By Gillian B, White, The Atlantic

Solar panels are seen in the Palm Springs area

WASHINGTON, D.C.—For homeowners and renters, drawing energy from solar panels on their roofs can be very cost-effective: Some estimates put monthly electric-bill savings between 10 and 30 percent, and on top of that, households that install solar systems can get 30 percent of the cost as a tax credit. But for many, installing solar panels is simply not within reach: Setting up such systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars, which means that their use—and subsequent savings—are predominantly enjoyed by wealthy households. That’s why, as Washington, D.C., moves forward with its clean-energy plan—which would have at least half the city’s power coming from renewable sources by 2032—it is doing so with an eye on inequality. The city has mandated that a portion of the money set aside for solar initiatives—just under one-third—target low-income neighborhoods. Continue reading.

Photo: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters. Solar installation in the Palm Springs area, California

RELATED READING
FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces Clean Energy Savings for All Americans Initiative
A PV Panel On Every Roof,
William S. Becker, Executive Director, Presidential Climate Action Project, Huffington Post Blog

ADDITIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY / ENERGY EFFICIENCY NEWS
Minnesota Power Seeks Proposals for Large-Scale Wind, Solar Energy, and Customer-Driven Resources, Business Wire
A new crop is now growing in Idaho: Solar energy, Idaho Statesman
Highlights:
Idaho’s first commercial solar farm has just been built south of Boise
Five other solar farms in Southeast Idaho are are set to be completed this year
Idaho Power is proposing a community solar project in Southeast Boise
Renewable Energy Is Key to Fighting Climate Change, Natural Resources Defense Council
New program helps hospitals advance solar beyond their campuses, Midwest Energy News
5 Common Myths About Residential Solar, Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
In Texas, 1 company is making rooftop solar work without net mtering, Utility Dive
SEIA Releases New Guide to Land Leases for Solar
US moves up in ACEEE world efficiency rankings, but still plenty of room for improvement: The U.S. is ranked #8 in the ACEEE rankings, up from #13 two years ago, Utility Dive

“Solar for All”: How Utilities Can Increase Access to Solar Energy

By John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

Solar-For-All

A new report looks at what utilities can do to “bring solar within reach” for a broader swath of U.S. households, particularly in lower-income areas and communities of color. The answer: a lot.

Solar for All is a product of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), the Partnerships for Southern Equity, and the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development, and is supported by more than a dozen other state and regional organizations. Click to continue reading.

Energy Storage Could Break Low Income Rooftop Solar Bottleneck

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

CleanTechnica

A trio of non-profits has come out with a report that makes a strong case for deploying energy storage plus on-site solar for low-income rental housing in California. The analysis projects that under today’s market conditions, the combo has a quick payback and would whittle electricity bills down to practically nothing . . . The new report, titled “Closing the Clean Energy Divide: Reducing Electric Bills in Affordable Multifamily Rental Housing with Solar+Storage,” was authored by the California Housing Partnership, the Center for Sustainable Energy, and the Clean Energy GroupClick here to read more.

Image Credit: The Clean Energy Group

MORE RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS STORIES
solar farm habitat

Minnesota bill would support bird, bee habitat for solar,
 
Midwest Energy News. Photo Credit: Juwi Renewable Energies
Opting for clean energy, Las Vegas casino set to exit Nevada utility’s service with $87M fee, Utility Dive
The Dramatic Drop in Solar-Energy Prices, by Sarah Kenzer, Mother Earth News

Powering Up Solar Energy For All

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

Union of Concerned ScientistsSolar energy for low-income residents is becoming a staple of local news. Last week, the New York City Housing Authority announced a new sustainability campaign that includes 25 megawatts (MW) of rooftop and parking-canopy solar power by 2025. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the 2.5 million square feet of panels could power 6,600 apartments and would cover the equivalent of eight Washington Square parks . . . Piece by piece, this is what top solar advocates are hoping to see even more of very soon—whether on individual homes, public housing, or community shared projects or funded by local, state, federal, foundation, or private sources.

Click here to learn about other low-income solar developments Jackson features in his blog and two reports about policies that make these possible.