Sustainable Solar Education Project - Guides

Through the Sustainable Solar Education Project, CESA developed a series of six guides on topics related to strengthening solar equitability, improving consumer information, and implementing consumer protection measures. The guides are aimed at state and municipal officials and are available for free download.

Each guide in the series provides key information and best practices on a focused topic area related to solar consumer protection or solar equitability. The guides describe model state and municipal programs, policies, and actions and offer practical program development and implementation advice. The topics covered are:

  • Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers
  • Consumer Protection for Community Solar
  • Publicly Supported Solar Loan Programs
  • Solar Information for Consumers
  • Solar+Storage for Low- and Moderate-Income Communities
  • Standards and Requirements for Solar Equipment, Installation, and Licensing and Certification

CESA conducted a webinar on each of the guides after its release. Links to these webinar recordings, along with a summary of the content of each guide and a link to download it, are listed below:

Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers: A Guide for States and Municipalities

Read it here | Watch the webinar

This guide outlines the obstacles that low-income households face in accessing solar power and provides a detailed overview of strategies that policymakers and government agencies can use to encourage low-income solar adoption. It describes many financing ideas that have emerged, direct incentives like renewable energy certificates (RECs), compensation mechanisms like virtual net metering, and new business models like community solar. It also discusses leveraging state energy policy to support low-income deployment and adapting existing housing and anti-poverty programs to support low-income deployment and highlights successful and promising models.

Bringing-the-Benefits-of-Solar-to-Low-Income-Consumers cover
Consumer Protection for Community Solar: A Guide for States

Read it here | Watch the webinar

Participation in community solar projects can be a complex and complicated undertaking for residential customers. Community solar can mean very different things in different states and sometimes even within the same state. This creates challenges for officials trying to understand the risks and benefits of community solar for consumers. It also creates possibilities for misunderstandings between consumers and those selling community solar. This guide explores consumer protection issues that may arise, as well as considers the role states can take, to ensure appropriate consumer protection measures are provided to community solar customers. The guide covers a variety of community solar consumer protection tools, including consumer education, regulations and guidelines, and enforcement mechanisms and grievance procedures.

Consumer-Protection-for-Community-Solar cover
Publicly Supported Solar Loan Programs: A Guide for States and Municipalities

Read it here | Watch the webinar

A publicly supported solar loan program is a codified body of rules, platforms, and support mechanisms that facilitate private lending for rooftop solar installation. States and municipalities that are interested in capturing the benefits of solar may be able to jumpstart their residential solar markets or accelerate the activity in an existing market through the creation of a publicly supported solar loan program. This guide informs state and municipal officials and loan program administrators of best practices, lessons learned, structural features, and the relative tradeoffs of various approaches to opening the lending marketplace for residential solar within their respective jurisdictions. This guide describes general factors state and municipal governments should consider when assessing whether to launch a public solar loan program, explains various loan program design elements, and offers several case studies. It also describes the concepts, methodologies, and applications being used by publicly supported solar loan programs.

Publicly-Supported-Solar-Loan-Programs cover
Solar Information for Consumers: A Guide for States and Municipalities

Read it here | Watch the webinar

Many states have policies and incentive programs to encourage solar development. States can support those policies and programs by offering unbiased information that facilitates good decision-making by consumers. This guide explains why states should provide consumer information on solar, describes the types of information that can be useful, and points out existing educational efforts by states and other entities that provide models and useful resource information. Although the focus of the guide is on educational efforts by states, its messages and approaches can apply to municipalities, counties, and municipal utilities that want to provide consumers with information on solar.

solar-information-for-consumers cover
Solar+Storage for Low- and Moderate-Income Communities: A Guide for States and Municipalities

Read it here | Watch the webinar

This guide provides state and municipal officials with information to develop effective solar and battery storage (solar+storage) policies and programs that benefit low- and moderate-income communities. It includes information about a range of approaches to low- and moderate-income solar+storage policy, including grants or rebates, utility procurements standards, financing support, opening markets, soft costs reductions. This guide explores program examples from states that have made low- and moderate-income  access to these technologies a priority.

Solar-Storage-for-LMI-Communities cover
Standards and Requirements for Solar Equipment, Installation, and Licensing and Certification: A Guide for States and Municipalities

Read it here | Watch the webinar

Well-crafted codes, rules, and standards related to solar are important policy levers for improving customer experience, promoting safety, and ensuring that rooftop PV development meets the goals, priorities, and expectations of program managers. States and municipalities can implement and solar equipment, installation, and licensing and certification standards and requirements that protect consumers without creating unnecessary hurdles for industry. This guide is intended to assist program managers in states or municipalities who are developing or revising standards and requirements for solar equipment, installation, and licensing and certification. It discusses a selection of programs and rules in these areas to highlight various means by which states and municipalities have addressed these topics and how they impact the implementation of solar policy goals. The guide develops recommendations and considerations for each topic area.

Standards-and-Requirements-for-Solar cover