Category Archives: Solar for Lower-Income Households

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.

Efficiency, Solar and Storage Offer a Unique Opportunity to Bring Clean Energy to Affordable Housing

Subtitle: Will policymakers, regulators and utilities help low-income customers take advantage of the opportunity? 

By Wayne Waite and Lewis Milford / Published by Greentech Media

Photo: Greentech Media

Photo: Greentech Media

In the last five years, solar PV costs have declined to the point that standalone solar PV systems can be financially feasible for affordable housing owners and at times more feasible than deeper energy-efficiency retrofits. As a result, solar PV is increasingly credible as a way to offset electricity consumption after a first level of energy efficiency retrofitting. At a policy level, providing incentives to finance solar access for low-income communities has emerged as a second significant step for reducing energy costs for low-income renters in affordable housing.

Read more.

About the Writers
Wayne Waite is the policy director for the California Housing Partnership, a private nonprofit organization that assists nonprofit and government housing agencies to create and preserve affordable housing benefiting lower-income households.

Lewis Milford, an attorney, is president and founder of Clean Energy Group, a national nonprofit organization that works with state, federal and international organizations to promote clean energy policy, finance and innovation.

Low-Income Solar Policy Guide

Photo Credit: Grid Alternatives

Photo Credit: Grid Alternatives

The Low-Income Solar Policy Guide was developed by nonprofits GRID Alternatives, the Vote Solar Initiative, and the Center for Social Inclusion, to help drive the proposal and adoption of new low-income solar policies and programs, both as stand-alone efforts and as part of broader renewable energy programs. It is meant to be a tool for policymakers, community leaders and others who are working on solar access at the Federal, state and local level.

There are many effective policy tools for supporting solar adoption among consumers at large, and nearly all of them help expand low-income access to solar power to some extent. However, fully enabling low-income solar participation requires policies and programs that are specifically designed to address the unique barriers faced by these communities. This guide provides an overview of those barriers, as well as underlying principles for successful programs, existing policy tools that can be used to create programs, and examples of state and local models that have successfully improved access.

Low-Income Solar Policy Guide.Org www.lowincomesolar.org

About GRID Alternatives
GRID Alternatives is America’s largest non-profit solar installer bringing clean energy technology and job training to low-income families and underserved communities through a network of community partners, volunteers, and philanthropic supporters. GRID has installed over 6,500 rooftop solar systems with a combined installed capacity of 22.6 megawatts, saving $174 million in lifetime electricity costs, preventing 484,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and providing over 5,400 people with solar training. For more information, visit www.gridalternatives.org

About Vote Solar
Vote Solar is a non-profit organization working to combat climate change and foster economic development by bringing solar energy into the mainstream nationwide: www.votesolar.org

About Center for Social Inclusion
Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) works to identify and support policy strategies to transform structural inequity and exclusion into structural fairness and inclusion. CSI works with community groups and national organizations to develop policy ideas, foster effective leadership, and develop communications tools for an opportunity-rich world in which we all will thrive no matter our race or ethnicity: www.centerforsocialinclusion.org

Colorado utilities to test 5 rural, low-income solar models

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Image Credit: Sandia National Laboratories

Image Credit: Sandia National Laboratories

Continuing to grow solar energy resources will ultimately mean finding ways for all utility customers to have access, not just those with a perfect roof or credit score, according to Colorado stakeholders.

“Colorado has always been a leader in renewable energy, and now we take another innovative step forward as we create community solar models that are more affordable and available to Colorado rural electric cooperatives and the low-income communities they serve,” Colorado Energy Office (CEO) Director Jeff Ackermann said in a statement.

Read more here.  

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Clean Technica: 5 Low-Income Community Solar Projects Announced In Colorado

Obamas Invite Businessman Who Helps Low-Income Residents Afford Solar Panels To State Of The Union

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

By Laura Barron-Lopez, Congressional Reporter, The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Mark Davis may have played for the Washington Bullets in the early ’80s, but his claim to fame in the District of Columbia is likely his work as a local businessman helping low-income residents find ways to install solar panels on their homes.

On Tuesday, Davis will join first lady Michelle Obama in the president’s guest box as the president delivers his final State of the Union address to Congress.

Continue reading.

Programs And Activities To Support Renewable Energy And Energy Efficiency In Low- And Moderate-Income Communities

August 2015 

Photo: U.S. Department of Energy

Photo: U.S. Department of Energy

Building on the Administration’s initiative to increase access to solar energy for all Americans, and recognizing the importance of ensuring that the communities most likely to be impacted by climate change must also share in the benefits of a clean energy future, today, President Obama is creating an Interagency Task Force to Promote a Clean Energy Future for All, which will work in partnership with states and community organizations to identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency and scale up the deployment renewable energy in low- and moderate- income communities. The Task Force, whose participants include the Executive Office of the President, DOE, EPA, HUD, USDA, DOL, and Treasury will work to enhance this shared goal through three key mechanisms: leveraging EPA’s clean energy incentive program; enhancing federal resources for low-and moderate income communities; and identifying private sector and foundation support.

To ensure all interested parties are aware of the breadth of Federal resources already available to increase the deployment of renewable energy and promote energy efficiency, the Administration is releasing this summary. Energy efficiency and renewable programs create jobs both directly, as crews are needed to install the measures themselves, and indirectly, as energy savings get redirected back into the general economy. Weatherization and other energy efficiency efforts can have significant additional health and safety benefits for the retrofitted households. And beyond the participating households, there are important non-participant benefits including lower system-wide costs, less pollution, and increased reliability and energy security.

Click here to read the nine-page summary.