Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities

CESA’s Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project seeks to address a central challenge facing the future of solar energy in the US: How to ensure that solar technologies benefit all Americans regardless of income.

There are daunting obstacles to making solar feasible and financially safe for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households in the U.S. Some of the challenges impact LMI households indiscriminately, but others are tied to the type of housing where LMI communities reside.

The Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project focuses on accelerating the development of solar projects for three distinct subsets of the LMI solar market: single-family homes, manufactured homes, and community institutions, including multifamily affordable housing. For each market sector, CESA and its project team are undertaking research, outreach, and market-building activities.

  • For the single-family homes sector, the project team is promoting a successful initiative that has brought solar to 3,000 LMI homeowners in Connecticut from 2015 to 2021, growing by 320% over the duration of the program, and encouraging and supporting other states to adapt it to their markets.
  • For the manufactured homes sector, the project team investigated the potential for using solar to power manufactured homes in different states and is working with states, utilities, and other stakeholders to launch solar pilot projects or programs for manufactured homes across the country.
  • For community institutions, the project team is working with foundations, lenders, and community service organizations to inventory, analyze, and communicate models for philanthropic investment (grants, program-related investments including guarantee models, and other support) that accelerate the deployment of solar and solar+storage in multifamily affordable housing, senior care facilities, and community health centers.

By advancing promising LMI solar financing innovations for different housing types and spreading them to new locations, this project is building momentum to scale up LMI solar.

The Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project is being supported by an award from the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The project began in 2019 and is scheduled to continue into 2023.

Photo courtesy Resonant Energy.