Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2021

Although community solar projects are on the rise in America, there’s one major flaw: less than half of US community solar projects have any participation from low-income households, and of the projects that do include lower-earning families, only about 5 percent involved a sizable share above 10 percent. What this tells us is that community solar projects have yet to truly include the entire ‘community’.

Recently, states and industry experts have been working to change these dynamics. A dozen States and the District of Columbia have developed, or are developing, a variety of mandates, financial incentives, and pilot programs to make it easier for low-income participants to access shared solar. Nonprofit developers are also trying new approaches, such as eliminating income and credit score checks for low-income customers and offering short-term contracts for renters. Thus far, the initiatives seem to be working for low-income families. For instance, the nearly 400 households that enrolled in Colorado’s eight low-income solar projects saved between 15 to 50 percent on their electricity bills, amounting to average annual savings of $382 per household. This is a win-win for both the environment and the wallets of families who need the money the most.

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