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Community Solar

Enable Clean Energy Access to Low-Income Populations

Sign up as an Anchor Off-Taker or Flexible Off-Taker

A city may find and encourage projects that target customers with low credit scores or that are a part of other LMI-focused programs, including public housing assistance, by becoming a major subscriber to a project that agrees to target LMI populations. Once such a project is identified, your city could agree to take on the role of an anchor off-taker or flexible off-taker, in which you would act to protect against undersubscription and underpayment from the target population.

In addition to requiring subscription, as a major project subscriber, you can also exert significant influence on the subscription model that a developer offers, which can make a project much more beneficial to target populations. To achieve this goal, you should research the subscription models and only consider subscribing to projects that are beneficial to your target populations. Models without up-front costs that offer cost savings from year one and that provide on-bill financing are important subscription features for low-income populations. To do this, you should consider the following:

  • Read SEPA’s Accelerating Adoption of Community Solar to understand how program design and subscription plans impact adoption and project success.
  • Test different subscription and ownership models with Elevate Energy’s Community Solar Business Case Tool, which incorporates the subscription business models into an economic valuation framework.
  • Identify which subscription and ownership structure makes the most sense in your region.

Write a Community Solar RFI or RFP That Includes Explicit Provisions on Targeting Populations

If you are interested in identifying new projects you could subscribe to, you could issue an RFI or RFP for a project to subscribe to and include explicit considerations for LMI populations (or involving women- and minority-owned businesses, etc.). you could read the Low-Income Solar Policy Guide‘s Low-Income Solar Policy Guidelines and Sample Bill Language, which includes sample bill language for LMI initiatives.

You may also want to take a look at some examples:

Learn More

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Design and Implementation of Community Solar Programs for Low- and Moderate-Income Customers provides additional insight into program designs and structures that can include and retain low- and moderate-income customers, clarify program billing, crediting, and eligibility, reduce customer turnover and default risk, and enroll customers with lower credit scores.