Converting to solar energy is a great option for everyone, whether it’s community solar or rooftop solar.
Both allow cost savings on monthly energy bills and lessen your dependence on fossil fuels.
Solar energy companies are popping up like Starbucks and McDonald’s, making it easy to find a company near you and hop on the solar train.
Going solar has never been easier. Renewable energy policy this past year, on both the state and national level, has made it clear that its regulations and guidelines are for the development of solar energy and other renewable energy development to lessen dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels to drive the country’s energy needs.
For instance: Oregon has regulated that community solar developers must reserve 10% of the project's capacity for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. Several other states are slotted to have similar requirements once community solar is more established in their respective state and see the demand.
One entity driving action for LMI communities is the Department of Energy's National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) is partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop the Community Solar Subscription Platform that will make community solar more accessible to LMI communities that are part of government-run support programs.
Our Marketing Coordinators, Clair and Jami, attended the virtual webinar held by the committee overseeing the platform development earlier this month. Here's what they learned:
There will be six states- Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington D.C, New York and New Jersey- spearheading platform development by assisting with coordination and providing data and feedback on the platform's capabilities in order to expand the platform nationwide. Three of these states, Washington D.C., Illinois, and New Mexico, have been chosen as pilot states. The next step of development, which will last through the end of 2023, is to focus on Low Income House and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) recipients in the pilot states to ensure the platform will work across multiple jurisdictions.
With the new platform, there are benefits they are hoping to add to help LIHEAP recipients and LMI communities. One major point is to require participating developers and projects to reserve 40% of a project's capacity for low-income households. At the time of this article's publication, no state in the country has a policy requiring that high of an allocation for low-income usage. The second major point is that, instead of the standard 10% monthly credit, low-income households should receive 20% credit
What does this mean for low- and moderate-income communities?
It means that economically disadvantaged communities who would not otherwise be able to afford or have access to rooftop solar now have the opportunity to participate and receive the benefits of community solar. With an average savings of 10%, and possibly more, every year, that money can be directed toward other expenses and save for emergencies.
Community solar programs are an important step in the right direction to ensuring that everyone has access to cheaper energy options. And while there are still some improvements that need to be made, developers and policy-makers are seeing the discrepancies in accessibility and are beginning to fill the void rather than make it larger.