December 22, 2016
California Energy Commission Studies Barriers to Low-Income Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Adoption
The California Energy Commission has released a study on how to overcome barriers to low-income adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy. The study considers both barriers inherent to poverty, such as insufficient access to capital, and policy and programmatic barriers, such as data inadequacy. Recommendations include establishing a task force to coordinate efforts, making sure the benefits of community solar are available to low-income populations, and continuing to test financing options. Read the report here.
December 18, 2016
The Kresge Foundation announced $14 million in investments to several community development finance institutions and development finance agencies that are active in low-income communities, including organizations focused on expanding access to clean energy technologies. Among the investment recipients, the Connecticut Green Bank was awarded $3 million to support the installation of solar+storage in affordable housing and other facilities providing critical services in disadvantaged communities. Read more
March 29, 2016
Massachusetts Seeks Stakeholder Engagement for Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Initiative
In February 2016, Massachusetts' Governor Charlie Baker announced the Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Initiative, which seeks to make clean, renewable energy, and energy efficiency technologies more accessible to low and moderate income residents in Massachusetts. Low and moderate income households in Massachusetts spend, on average, 14% of their income on energy—up to twice the state average. However, for various reasons many low and moderate income residents may face challenges in investing in cost-saving energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
As part of this Initiative, the Department of Energy Resources and the Department of Housing and Community Development will be seeking stakeholder engagement about current and future program development. Over the next 6 months, they will be covering multiple topics (e.g., limited access to financing, high upfront costs, high rates of rental tenancy/split incentives, and the complex financial structures of subsidized housing) in order to determine ways that state government can help address the challenges discussed.
February 29, 2016
By Todd Olinsky-Paul, Project Director, CESA
February 2, 2016
New Initiative Seeks to Expand Access to Clean Energy for Low and Moderate Income Massachusetts Residents
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has announced a new initiative and $15 million in funding to help low and moderate income residents access cost-saving, clean and energy efficient technologies. The Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Initiative will form a working group to identify the barriers for low income communities in accessing clean and efficient energy technologies, strategize how to expand the availability of clean energy through new and existing programs, facilitate collaboration between state and local agencies, and determine the best way to allocate funding. The Initiative is supported by funds from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. "We're looking forward to putting clean energy technologies in the homes of those they'll help most," said MassCEC Interim CEO Steve Pike. Read about this program here. Sign up to receive updates on this program here.
November 2, 2015
By Todd Olinsky-Paul, Project Director, CESAIt’s an exciting time in the solar PV field. Prices have fallen so fast and so far that in many states, solar is becoming competitive with grid-purchased electricity. And although we are currently seeing a rush to install before the scheduled reduction of the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit at the end of 2016, some studies show that solar will continue to be competitive in many jurisdictions even at the reduced 10% ITC for commercial systems.
In a number of states too, solar incentives have begun to decline. With solar looking more and more as though it will be able to stand on its own, discussion has begun to focus on the future role of states with regard to solar. If incentives won’t be needed to get the technology from lab to rooftop, what should state energy offices be doing?
While it’s true that solar is more competitive than ever, it is still not an equal-access commodity; and competitive pricing may not help much if you don’t own property or enjoy a good credit rating. For this reason a number of CESA member states have expressed interest in programs, such as community solar, that could help make the technology accessible to those who have not heretofore been able to access it.
Now Vermont has taken the concept a step farther, with a financing program for community solar projects that will buy down interest rates for residents who need to borrow in order to participate. The Vermont Community Solar Loan Program, administered by the Vermont Public Service Department’s Clean Energy Development Fund, will provide affordable financing to help low-income Vermonters buy an ownership interest in community solar projects with up to 500 kW capacity. The interest rate buy-down will be funded through support from the SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge II, and the loans will be administered through the Vermont State Employees Credit Union. The program will offer unsecured or secured loans up to $40,000, with terms up to 15 years.
The program has garnered some national attention, notably as part of a White House announcement on solar access. The program is on target for an imminent statewide launch, with details to be available soon on the VT PSD website.
September 3, 2015
The District of Columbia has enjoyed 15 years of strong economic growth. But prosperity is spread unevenly across the nation’s capital. Calling Washington “an increasingly two-class town,” the New York Times Magazine reported in 2013 that about one-third of the city’s households earned less than $60,000 a year, while nearly half made more than $100,000 a year. At the same time, high housing and energy costs make Washington, DC one of the nation’s most expensive places to live.
April 8, 2014
Today, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) announced awards for the FY2014 “EmPOWER Clean Energy Communities” grant program. The program assists local governments and not-for-profit organizations in funding energy efficiency projects specifically designed to assist low to moderate income individuals. It will help some 5,000 Maryland households save 5,000 MWh of electricity and more than 450M cubic ft. of natural gas each year. Overall, these energy conservation measures are expected to save more than $1 million annually.
February 28, 2014
The New Jersey Comfort Partners Program assists income-eligible households by installing energy efficient measures in homes to help lower energy bills. Over 80,000 New Jersey residents have had their energy bills reduced through this program, allowing them to save energy, save money month after month, and be safer in their homes. This video shares the story of one New Jersey resident from Linden, New Jersey who is grateful for the work done in her home.
June 21, 2013
District First in the U.S. to use Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing for Energy Efficiency Project in Affordable Housing
Innovative Financing Program Helps Save Money and Conserve Energy