Sustainable Solar Education Project News
June 14, 2018
Through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Modernization Lab Consortium (GMLC), the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has developed electricity affordability metrics at the state and county levels for the United States. On June 14th, CESA hosted a webinar with speakers from NREL and PNNL to introduce a simple spreadsheet interface to map these electricity affordability metrics.
Monisha Shah of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory discussed the GMLC and its work to measure the progress of the nation’s grid modernization efforts. Dave Anderson of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory explained the electricity affordability concept, presented the methods used to construct affordability metrics, and demonstrated the mapping tool.
An interactive web-based version of the mapping tool is expected to be published on the GMLC website soon. In the meantime, the tool is available for download on the CESA website here. Webinar slides and a recording are also available at that link.
May 7, 2018
CESA worked with the District of Columbia Office of the People’s Counsel (OPC) and the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) to publish two new state-specific guides for residents considering going solar.
The guides aim to help consumers make informed decisions about solar. They cover topics including how solar can save consumers money, different methods of system ownership or finance, and key questions to ask before signing a contract. State-specific issues are also covered, including programs, rebates, and permitting requirements. Read the OPC guide here and the MEA guide here.
August 10, 2017
The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), in conjunction with the George Washington University Solar Institute, has released three short videos for consumers who are considering adopting solar:
June 14, 2017
Through the Sustainable Solar Education Project, CESA conducted a full-day, in-person workshop for state officials on planning for bringing solar to low- and moderate-income (LMI) residents. Representatives from sixteen states attended the workshop, which was held in Washington, DC on June 14th. During the workshop, state participants engaged with leading experts and peers from across the country in discussions on such topics as financing for LMI solar, using community solar to advance solar for LMI households, LMI solar+storage as a strategy to reduce lifecycle costs, and harnessing existing low-income and housing programs for solar. The workshop included sessions for state officials to work together to generate and develop program ideas and strategies to bring the benefits of solar to LMI residents. Workshop materials are available here.
March 31, 2017
Bringing the Benefits of Solar+Storage to Low-Income Communities: A Guide for States and Municipalities
By Todd Olinsky-Paul, Project Director, CESA
February 23, 2017
In addition to the development of reports and webinars, the Sustainable Solar Education Project is now entering its next phase to provide in-person training workshops and presentations aimed at state employees with responsibility for implementing solar policies and programs. The first in-person workshop will take place in Washington, DC on June 14th and will focus on “Bringing the Benefits of Solar to Low- and Moderate-Income (LMI) Residents.” Participants will be chosen from an application process and will engage with leading experts and attendees from across the country in discussions on financing for LMI solar, using community solar to advance solar for LMI households, solar+storage as a strategy to reduce the cost of LMI solar, and harnessing existing poverty and housing programs for solar. State employees from any state are welcome to apply and travel assistance is available. For more information about this workshop or to apply, click here. Other in-person workshops and an online course will be offered over the coming year.
February 1, 2017
The District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) has issued a Notice of Funding Availability and a Request for Applications to increase solar industry employment among District residents. The purpose is “to establish a comprehensive year-round solar photovoltaic (PV) systems job training program for adult District residents, ages 18 and above.” In operating the job training program, the selected applicant will work to “increase the district’s solar capacity” on buildings including “low-income single-family homes, multifamily housing, and nonprofit owned buildings.” The application deadline has been extended until February 27.
November 10, 2016
State governments have an increasingly important obligation and opportunity to present the public with sound, unbiased, user-friendly information on solar energy systems and financing options. With hundreds of thousands of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems being installed at homes, businesses, and institutions, consumers need help to ensure that they make decisions that give them long-lasting satisfaction rather than regrets.
September 7, 2016
While the costs of solar photovoltaics (PV) have decreased considerably over the last decade, many customers still need long-term, low-cost financing to make going solar affordable. Financing mechanisms like leases, loans, and power purchase agreements spread out the initial cost of residential solar installations over a term of years.
Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (R-PACE) offers another solution for homeowners to pay for a solar investment over time. While the structure, capital source, and administration of programs vary, residential PACE enables a local government to fund energy improvements, such as solar, on a qualifying taxpayer’s home and to recoup the expense, with interest, through a tax assessment paid over time by the homeowner. The tax assessment, which remains in place for the life of the obligation, is levied through the homeowner’s property tax bill. Residential PACE payment obligations can transfer to subsequent property owners along with the benefits of the energy improvement. Because the obligation is secured by the underlying property, it can support repayment terms of twenty years or longer at attractive interest rates.
September 2, 2016
The U.S. distributed solar market has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade.  Over seventy- times the residential solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was installed in the U.S. in 2015 (2,099 MW) as was installed in 2005 (27 MW).  While the significant opportunities for gainful enterprise in the residential PV economy signal solar market health, they have also brought consumer-focused issues to the fore. Policymakers, regulators, advocacy groups, and the solar industry are giving increasing attention to ensuring that consumers receive accurate information and ultimately have good experiences with solar energy installation. A number of new resources are intended to help further residential solar understanding.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has put forth a Solar Consumer Protection Resource webpage with various resources focused on improving consumer transparency, reducing transaction costs, and increasing the potential for asset securitization for solar customers. SEIA’s Solar Consumer Protection Resource webpage includes:
May 17, 2016
CESA Wins Award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to Assist States’ Solar Efforts
The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) has been awarded $568,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. Under the Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) program, CESA will work with state and local policymakers and regulators to improve best practices, implement consumer protections, and ensure that solar markets remain inclusive and accessible.