Directory of State Low- and Moderate-Income Clean Energy Programs
Clean Energy States Alliance
Many states are working to ensure that low-and-moderate-income (LMI) households can benefit from solar, wind, energy storage, renewable thermal, and other clean energy technologies. These technologies can offer economic savings and health benefits, as well as stimulate local economic development.
This directory lists and describes state clean energy programs for LMI residents and communities. It focuses primarily on clean energy generation, but also covers energy efficiency and thermal energy programs that include clean energy technologies. It contains only those state programs that feature strategies targeted specifically at LMI residents or communities. It does not include programs that are carried out by non-state parties, unless the programs are funded or administered by a state entity. It does not include federally funded low-income weatherization programs.
CESA first published the directory as a PDF report in 2015. It has been updated periodically since then. In March 2021, the directory was converted to the online format you see on this page. This allows for more frequent updates and enables users to more easily access information. If you know of additional programs that should be included in the directory or corrections to any of the entries, please email CESA Project Manager Abbe Ramanan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The conversion of the directory to this web-based format and the January 2021 updates were supported by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Award Number DE-EE-0007667.
|State||State Full Name||Program Name||Technologies||Eligible Recipients||Financial Incentives||Financing Strategies||Community Solar||Workforce Development|
|Row ID||State||State Full Name||Program Name||Description||Technologies||Eligible Recipients||Financial Incentives||Financing Strategies||Community Solar||Workforce Development||Program Description|
|1||CA||California||Disadvantaged Communities - Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing Program (DAC-SASH)||Solar PV||Homeowners||Grant||Yes||
The California Solar Initiative (CSI) was the solar rebate program for customers of California’s investor-owned utilities. Legislation in 2006 required the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to “ensure that not less than 10 percent of the funds for CSI are utilized for the installation of solar energy systems on low-income residential housing.” This led to the development of the Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing Program (SASH) and the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program (MASH) in 2009. Both the SASH and MASH program were scheduled to expire, but 2013 legislation added $108 million in new funding to extend the programs “to Dec. 31, 2021 or when all funds available from the program’s incentive budget has been encumbered, whichever occurs first.” The SASH program aimed “to provide existing low-income single-family homes with access to photovoltaic systems to decrease electricity usage and bills without increasing monthly household expenses.” The program offers subsidized PV systems to LMI households (below 80 percent of the area median income).
SASH is being replaced by a new program modeled on it--the Disadvantaged Communities - Single Family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH) program. This program provides up-front financial incentives of $3.00/Watt towards the installations of solar for LMI homeowners.
Participants must be in the service territory of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), or San Diego Gas and Electric (SGD&E). The residence must be code compliant and occupied by the homeowner/applicant. In addition to installing PV systems, DAC-SASH helps enroll LMI homeowners in the utilities’ Energy Savings Assistance programs and trains volunteers. GRID Alternatives, a non-profit solar contractor, is the statewide administrator for the DAC-SASH program. SASH is expected to continue operating through the program’s statutory end-date of 2021. The DAC-SASH program provides $8.5 million in incentives annually through 2030, to be funded by utility greenhouse gas allowance revenues or public purpose program funds. The program is available to LMI customers who are resident-owners of single-family homes in disadvantaged communities. Recent changes to the program have expanded eligibility to households in California Indian Country as defined in 18 United States Code Section 1151, with some exceptions.
More information is available on GRID Alternatives’ webpage about the program (https://gridalternatives.org/what-we-do/program-administration/dac-sash) and on the CPUC webpage about the program (https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/SolarInDACs/#DC_SASH).
|2||CA||California||Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing Program (SOMAH)||Solar PV||Businesses, Multifamily Housing, Renters,||Rebate||Yes||
The California Solar Initiative (CSI) was the solar rebate program for customers of California’s investor-owned utilities. Legislation in 2006 required the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to “ensure that not less than 10 percent of the funds for CSI are utilized for the installation of solar energy systems on low-income residential housing.” This led to the development of the Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing Program (SASH) and the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program (MASH) in 2009. Both the SASH and MASH program were scheduled to expire, but 2013 legislation added $108 million in new funding to extend the programs “to Dec. 31, 2021 or when all funds available from the program’s incentive budget has been encumbered, whichever occurs first.” In 2019-2020, project cancellations and adjustments to incentive claims in SCE and PG&E’s MASH programs left remaining funds for new projects. In March 2020, SCE reopened its MASH program for new applications with a remaining budget of roughly $6.6M. Shortly thereafter, on April 24, 2020, SCE closed its program as those funds were fully subscribed. In PG&E service territory, the program re-opened in October 2020 with roughly $12.4M available. SDG&E’s MASH program did not reopen as its program budget has remained fully subscribed.
Recently, California created the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program as a successor program to MASH. The program plans to install solar panels on 210,000 affordable housing units in California. Properties must be multifamily residential buildings with at least five rental housing units and must be operated to provide deed-restricted low-income residential housing. One of two requirements must be met: either at least 80 percent of the households must have incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income, or the property must be located in a CalEnviroScreen disadvantaged community. Additionally, the CPUC has established local hiring requirements to provide economic development benefits to disadvantaged communities. SOMAH will be funded at up to $100 million annually for 10 years. The funds come from participating utilities' greenhouse gas auction proceeds.
Pursuant to direction in the authorizing decision, a competitive solicitation for a statewide program administrator was held and a team consisting of the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), GRID Alternatives (GRID), the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA), and the California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC) was selected. The SOMAH Program Administrator has established an advisory council comprised largely of community advocate organizations to help assess program impact effectiveness and guide program changes.
More information in on the official program website at www.calsomah.org.
|3||CA||California||California Solar Initiative Thermal Program||Thermal||Homeowners, Multifamily Housing||Rebate, Performance-Based Incentive||
The California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program offers incentives for the installation of solar hot water systems. Rebates are available to homeowners, landlords and business owners who install new solar water heating systems in the service territories of California’s three main investor-owned electric utilities as well as those served by Southern California Gas Company. Legislation (AB 797) requires that 50 percent of the total program budget be reserved for the installation of solar thermal systems in LMI residential housing or in buildings in disadvantaged communities. The program is designed so LMI households can qualify for higher rebates per thermal unit of natural gas displaced than households with higher incomes. This program is sunsetting July 1, 2020.
More information: The program website, with useful descriptions and detailed program statistics is www.csithermal.com.
|4||CA||California||California Low-Income Weatherization Program||Energy Efficiency, Solar PV||Homeowners, Multifamily Housing||Rebate||
The California Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP) “helps property owners and their residents to lower utility costs, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in large multifamily properties.” The program is administered by the Association for Energy Affordability and is funded by the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) with revenues from California’s cap-and-trade program. By 2018, $192 million had been appropriated to CSD for the implementation of LIWP.
LIWP offers financial incentives, free property assessments, work scope development, contractor procurement, construction management assistance, and quality control. There are three categories of LIWP eligible upgrades: energy efficiency; solar photovoltaics; and solar thermal. To be eligible, participating properties must be located in a CalEnviroScreen disadvantaged community and install improvements that equate to at least 15 percent modeled energy savings above existing conditions, and the property owner must have access to supporting capital to finance the project. CSD has a webpage dedicated to the program.
More information is available on CSD’s webpage about the program (https://www.csd.ca.gov/Pages/Low-Income-Weatherization-Program.aspx) and in an informational flyer with program offerings and incentives (https://camultifamilyenergyefficiencydotorg.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/liwpflyer_v2_2020.pdf).
|5||CA||California||California Community Solar Pilot Program||Solar PV||Homeowners, Multifamily Housing, Renters||Rebate, Bill Credit/Reduction||Yes||
The Community Solar Pilot Program is administered by the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) to provide solar energy benefits to LMI households. With program oversight and direction provided by the California Air Resources Board, CSD will provide up to $5 million in funding for two community solar projects for the purposes of making the benefits of solar energy more available to eligible LMI households, lowering residents’ energy bills, and providing co-benefits to communities, including economic and workforce development. The two projects were selected in November 2018. According to CSD, the pilot projects were estimated for completion in late-2020.
More information about the Community Solar Pilot Program can be found on CSD’s Low-Income Weatherization Program webpage: www.csd.ca.gov/Pages/Low-Income-Weatherization-Program.aspx.
|6||CA||California||Disadvantaged Communities - Green Tariff Program||Solar PV||Businesses, Multifamily Housing, Organizations||Rebate, Bill Credit/Reduction||Yes||
For residents unable to participate in SOMAH or DAC-SASH, the Disadvantaged Communities – Green Tariff (DAC-Green Tariff) program will provide a 20 percent electricity bill discount to selected customers living in disadvantaged communities. Subscribing customers will receive 100 percent solar energy purchased by their utility. Modeled after the green tariff portion of the existing Green Tariff/Shared Renewables programs, the DAC-Green Tariff Program is available to customers who live in disadvantaged communities and meet the income eligibility requirements for the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) and Family Electric Rate Assistance programs. The DAC-Green Tariff program is funded by utility greenhouse gas allowance revenues or public purpose program funds. The CPUC approved the program in June 2018.
More information is available on the CPUC website at https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/General.aspx?id=6442461840.
|7||CA||California||Community Solar Green Tariff Program||Solar PV||Businesses, Multifamily Housing, Organizations||Rebate||Yes||
The Community Solar Green Tariff program allows customers in disadvantaged communities to benefit from the development of solar generation projects located in their own or nearby disadvantaged communities. Participants, a significant number of whom must be low-income, will receive a 20 percent bill discount. The communities will work with a local non-profit or local government “sponsor” to organize community interest and present siting locations to the utility; the sponsor can also receive an incentive for its efforts. The major difference between the DAC-Green Tariff program and the Community Solar Green Tariff program is that the Community Solar Green Tariff program requires community involvement with the solar project through a local sponsor and will result in a solar facility serving a nearby community. The program is funded by utility greenhouse gas allowance revenues or public purpose program funds. The CPUC approved the program in June 2018 and Resolution E-4999 modified it in 2019 to further enhance clean energy access for LMI users.
More information is available on the CPUC website at https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/SolarInDACs/#CSGT.
|8||CO||Colorado||Colorado Rooftop Low-Income Program||Energy Efficiency, Solar PV||Homeowners, Multifamily Housing||Grant||
In 2016, Colorado’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) began installing rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) on client homes. Eligibility in the program is limited to households with maximum gross annual income not exceeding 60 percent of the estimated state median income. The installations must meet criteria to ensure they will provide a high return on investment. Program estimates show that solar PV can save customers over $400 each year through reduced electricity costs. Colorado WAP currently installs rooftop solar PV on 100 to 150 homes annually, with a total annual capacity of 350 to 550 kilowatts.
More information is available on the Colorado Energy Office website at https://energyoffice.colorado.gov/rooftop-solar-pv.
|9||CO||Colorado||Colorado Community Solar Gardens||Solar PV||Homeowners, Multifamily Housing, Renters||Bill Credit/Reduction||Yes||Yes||
In 2010, Colorado enacted the Community Solar Gardens Act, which directed the state’s investor-owned electric utilities to build community solar projects across the state. The Community Solar Gardens Act defines a community solar garden as a solar electric generation facility with a nameplate rating of 2 MW or less and in which subscriptions are owned by 10 or more customers of a qualifying retail utility. The legislation required project developers to reserve 5 percent of each community solar garden for low-income subscribers. Low-income subscribers include households at or below 185% of the federal poverty line or eligible service providers under state regulations. Implementation commenced in 2012.
In November 2016, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved a legal settlement between the state’s largest investor-owned electric utility, Xcel Energy, and various stakeholder organizations. Under the terms of the settlement, Xcel agreed to manage the community solar garden’s 5 percent low-income requirement that developers had previously been responsible for through at least 5MW of 100 percent low-income-customer-subscribed community solar gardens. The settlement also required Xcel also agreed to contract for up to competitively solicit another 4 MW of 100 percent low-income-customer-subscribed community solar gardens. The first projects contracted by Xcel under the settlement came online in 2019. Xcel has continued this program structure in subsequently renewable energy plans. Xcel’s program is branded as Solar*Rewards Community.
Black Hills Energy, another Colorado utility regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, competitively solicits community solar gardens and is subject to state law requiring each garden to reserve at least 5 percent of shares for low-income subscribers.
More information is available on the Xcel Solar*Rewards Community webpage at https://www.xcelenergy.com/programs_and_rebates/residential_programs_and_rebates/renewable_energy_options_residential/solar/available_solar_options/community-based_solar.
|10||CT||Connecticut||Connecticut Solar for All||Solar PV||Businesses, Homeowners||Rebate||
In 2014, Connecticut Green Bank added an elevated production-based incentive for solar installations for LMI households as part of its Residential Solar Incentive Program (RSIP). Only third-party-owned systems are eligible for the elevated LMI incentive. The incentive is paid to the solar company that owns the system, which is then able to offer a reduced price to the customer. To qualify for the elevated LMI incentive, solar companies must submit their proposed product pricing, marketing strategy, and qualifications, and agree to abide by program rules. The use of price escalators is not permitted. The elevated LMI incentive was originally set at $0.11/kWh. Its current value is $0.081/kWh. The RSIP was extended in 2020 when the program hit its 300-MW capacity cap to allow for an additional 32 megawatts of capacity.
PosiGen, a solar company with a history of serving LMI households, was the first company to be approved for Connecticut’s elevated LMI incentive and was also selected through a competitive process to receive financing to enter the state’s LMI solar market in 2015. PosiGen, in partnership with Connecticut Green Bank, has since been providing solar and energy efficiency services to LMI Connecticut homeowners through Connecticut’s Solar for All program, which uses community-driven marketing campaigns to target underserved communities. Under Connecticut’s Solar for All program, the Connecticut Green Bank assists PosiGen in the execution of the solar campaigns through the co-branding of marketing materials, community and municipal partner outreach, marketing training, and consultation support.
More information is available on the Connecticut Green Bank’s website (https://www.ctgreenbank.com/solarforall/) and in a CESA report, Building a State Solar Program for Low- and Moderate-Income Homeowners: Replicating Connecticut’s Success.
State Full Name:
This directory was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.