Low Income Solar Policy Guide

Center for Social Inclusion, GRID Alternatives, and Vote Solar

Author +
Lisa Abbott, Sara Baldwin Auck,Tom Hunt, Chris Neidl,Katie Ottenweller and Berneta Haynes,Emily Rochon

Year: 2016

A road map to successful policies and programs that are creating access to solar technology and jobs nationwide.

The Low-Income Solar Policy Guide was developed by nonprofits GRID Alternatives, Vote Solar, and the Center for Social Inclusion, to help drive the proposal and adoption of new lowincome solar policies and programs, both as stand-alone efforts and as part of broader renewable energy programs. It is meant to be a tool for policymakers, community leaders and others who are working on solar access at the Federal, state and local level.

There are many effective policy tools for supporting solar adoption among consumers at large, and nearly all of them help expand low-income access to solar power to some extent. However, fully enabling low-income solar participation requires policies and programs that are specifically designed to address the unique barriers faced by these communities. This guide provides an overview of those barriers, as well as underlying principles for successful programs, existing policy tools that can be used to create programs, and examples of state and local models that have successfully improved access.

This project was made possible by the generous support of the Energy Foundation and the 11th Hour Project.

Download the Low Income Solar Policy Guide

Table of Contents

    1. Why Act
    2. Unlocking Low-Income Participation
      1. Costs
      2. Physical Barriers and Home Ownership Status
      3. Housing Conditions
      4. Market Forces
    3. Guiding Principles
    1. Compensation Mechanisms
      1. Net Metering/Virtual Net Metering
      2. Community Shared Solar
    2. Direct Incentives
      1. Federal and State Tax Credits
      2. Rebates
      3. Solar/Renewable Energy Credits
    3. Financing and Investments
      1. On-Bill Recovery/On-Bill Financing
      2. Property Assessed Clean Energy
      3. Community Purchase Programs
      4. Community Development Finance Institutions and Community Reinvestment
      5. Green Banks
      6. Grants and Technical Assistance
      7. Place-Based Investments
    4. Federal Partnerships/Best Practices Sharing
    5. Consumer Protections
    1. Single-Family Rooftop
      1. California
      2. Massachusetts
      3. New York
      4. District of Columbia
      5. Richmond, California
      6. San Francisco, California
    2. Multifamily Affordable Housing
      1. California
      2. Massachusetts
      3. District of Columbia
    3. Community Shared Solar
      1. Colorado
      2. New York
    4. Workforce Development
      1. California
      2. New York