October 3, 2019
Clean Energy States Alliance Launches Major Initiative to Advance Solar in Under-Resourced Communities
US Department of Energy Funds CESA’s Efforts to Scale Up Solar for
Low-and Moderate-Income Households
Montpelier, VT – The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) will lead a wide-ranging initiative to accelerate the development of solar projects that benefit low-and-moderate-income (LMI) households and communities. The “Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project” is being supported by a three-year funding award of $1.1 million from the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.
August 26, 2019
This is a guest blog post by Joseph L. Fiordaliso, President, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU), the state agency responsible for regulating our critical utilities—natural gas, electricity, water, telecommunications, and cable—to ensure safe, reliable service at reasonable rates.
May 25, 2019
CESA member organizations are working to make sure that renewable energy is accessible to everyone. A few notable programs and initiatives have recently made the news:
March 25, 2019
The US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office announced that CESA will receive funding for a three-year project that will build on three innovative low- and moderate-income (LMI) solar access and finance initiatives. The project will further develop these models and promote them in additional locations. The three initiatives are: (1) Efforts by Connecticut Green Bank to document the creditworthiness of LMI single-family homeowners and attract financial institutions, most notably PosiGen, to offer financing to the LMI solar market; (2) New Mexico State Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department efforts to develop “PV-on-a Pole” prototypes to be manufactured inexpensively and installed widely at manufactured homes; (3) Efforts by Clean Energy Group, foundations, and affordable housing organizations to use loan guarantees and other credit enhancements to finance solar+battery storage for multifamily affordable housing. Learn more here.
January 27, 2019
CESA has launched a new project with Alabama A&M University, the Partnership for Southern Equity/Advancing Equity and Opportunity, the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability, and Woodline Solutions to research, write, and disseminate a report on the solar landscape in under-resourced communities. The report will identify the most useful strategies for advancing solar photovoltaic technologies in ways that benefit low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. The project team will gather input from a wide range of stakeholders, including state and municipal governments, utilities, foundations, advocates for LMI populations, and the solar industry, and will especially seek to learn from the experiences of organizations that have deep roots in LMI communities. The report will tentatively be released in the Fall of 2019. The project is funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
January 15, 2019
Community solar has the potential to vastly increase access to solar for low- and moderate-income communities, especially for renters, but programs need to be specifically designed with those customers in mind in order to have the maximum benefit. A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Clean Energy States Alliance aims to help state program officials to design effective programs. The report, Design and Implementation of Community Solar Programs for Low- and Moderate-Income Customers, is available here.
December 7, 2018
Directory of State Clean Energy Programs and Policies for Low- and Moderate-Income Residents – Updated December 2018
CESA has updated its Directory of State Clean Energy Programs and Policies for Low- and Moderate-Income Residents. This document, first published in 2015, surveys current and planned state activities that seek to bring the benefits of clean energy to low-income residents and communities. It focuses primarily on clean energy generation, but also covers some energy-efficiency initiatives. It does not include low-income weatherization programs. We will continue to update this document periodically to keep it current and useful as a directory of relevant state programs and policies. Read more here.
September 20, 2018
Connecticut Green Bank and partners create a nonprofit to enhance programs for under-served communities
The Connecticut Green Bank, in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Kresge Foundation, and Hewlett Foundation, has created a new nonprofit entity Inclusive Prosperity Capital to operate some of its programs, while enabling those programs to expand nationally.
This strategic partnership was created to scale-up efforts to expand successful financing programs for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and health & safety investments for low-to-moderate income families and underserved credits (e.g., nonprofits, small businesses, etc.). As a result of funding sweeps by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2018 and 2019, national banks and foundations became concerned about investing alongside the Connecticut Green Bank. Creating an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization provides an opportunity to continue private investment in these underserved markets. “The nonprofit becomes a way for us to maintain our commitment to the underserved while at the same time attracting private investment in a space we've lost some ground on because of what happened with the sweep," explains Green Bank CEO Bryan Garcia. Read more here and here.
April 25, 2018
The California Energy Commission has concluded the public comment period for its report on energy equity indicators. The report offers information on clean energy access, renewable energy investment, and energy jobs in low-income communities.
Through the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment’s Solar for All program, the city’s largest community solar project to-date has been installed. The project aims to reduce energy bills for nearly 200 low-income households.
The Illinois Commerce Commission approved the Illinois Power Agency's Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, which includes the state’s Solar for All low-income solar incentive program.
The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) are conducting a statewide conference on Leadership in Advancing Clean Energy Solutions for Low-Income Residents and Communities on May 22-23, 2018 in Albany, New York.
Two new NREL publications: U.S. Rooftop Solar Technical Potential for Low-to-Moderate Income Households and Unlocking Solar for Low- and Moderate-Income Residents: A Matrix of Promising Financing Options.
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
October 21, 2016
CESA, Five States, and the District of Columbia Awarded $1.73 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to Improve Low- and Moderate-Income Access to Solar
CESA has received a $1.73 million award under the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to help Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Rhode Island increase solar power adoption by low- and moderate-income (LMI) residents. Under this grant, the participating states will explore the best ways of increasing LMI adoption of solar, given each state’s circumstances. The states will develop and implement the most promising strategies to meet their respective goals, with involvement from key stakeholders in their states.
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