Low- and Moderate-Income (LMI) Clean Energy
As clean energy markets have grown, many states have developed programs to ensure that clean energy’s economic, health, and safety benefits are accessible to under-resourced communities.
Low- and moderate-income (LMI) households face barriers to adopting clean energy, including difficulties obtaining financing, frequent address changes, language barriers, and the reluctance of some contractors to serve the low-income market. Since 2014, CESA has been actively engaged with states and other stakeholders in clean energy markets and in LMI communities to better understand the challenges, opportunities, and best practices for equitably advancing clean energy and to design effective programs for this market segment. CESA has two current projects focused on this topic:
- Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities – This US Department of Energy-supported multi-year project seeks to accelerate the development of solar projects for three subsets of the LMI solar market: single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multifamily affordable housing.
- Solar with Justice: Connecting States and Communities Project – Supported by funding from US Department of Energy and The Nathan Cummings Foundation, this project is focused on helping state energy agencies and frontline community-based organizations learn from each other and forge partnerships to promote LMI solar.
In addition to these projects, CESA produces a monthly newsletter, the Solar Equity Digest, which includes news and resources from around the country on bringing the benefits of solar electricity to LMI communities. CESA has produced a variety of other LMI clean energy resources as well:
- Solar with Justice Report – In December 2019, CESA published a major report, Solar with Justice: Strategies for Powering Up Under-Resourced Communities and Growing an Inclusive Solar Market. The report aims to accelerate the implementation of solar in under-resourced communities in ways that provide meaningful, long-lasting benefits to those communities. It was written by CESA in partnership with the Jackson State University Department of Urban & Regional Planning, the Partnership for Southern Equity, PaulosAnalysis, the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, and The Solutions Project.
- Directory of State Low- and Moderate-Income Clean Energy Programs – CESA has published an interactive online directory of state LMI clean energy programs. The directory lists and describes state clean energy programs for LMI residents and communities. It contains only those state programs that feature strategies targeted specifically at LMI residents or communities. It focuses primarily on clean energy generation, but also covers energy efficiency and thermal energy programs that include clean energy technologies.
- Expanding Access to Solar for Low-to-Moderate Income Households and Communities: Lessons Learned for State Agencies – From 2017 to 2020, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia worked with CESA as part of its State Energy Strategies project to develop and implement innovative strategies for expanding access to solar for LMI households and communities. CESA produced a dedicated webpage to share lessons and resources that emerged from the project, including case studies, reports, webinars, and other products developed.
Additionally, CESA is working on clean energy equity through its 100% Clean Energy Collaborative Project and through its sister organization, the Clean Energy Group, and its Resilient Power Project, which is focused on accelerating market development of resilient solar PV and battery storage (solar+storage) solutions for affordable housing and critical community facilities in under-resourced and vulnerable communities.