Groundswell-led Collaboration Wins Funding from U.S. Department of Energy

to Accelerate Solar Access for Rural and Urban Low-Income Communities

 With partners Elevate Energy, Southface and Clean Energy Works, Groundswell will expand access to unsubsidized community solar service in at least a dozen states

October 25, 2018, Washington, DC – Groundswell, a non-profit organization that builds community power that connects solar power to economic empowerment, with its partner organizations Elevate Energy, Southface and Clean Energy Works, have been awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to support research that will rapidly accelerate community solar and energy efficiency access for low-income communities. The three years of DOE support will allow Groundswell and its partners to research and develop accessible, market-based, scalable community solar programs for low-income households and communities in at least a dozen states, with more states added each year.

Groundswell leads the collaborative “Accelerating Low-Income Financing and Transactions for Solar Access Everywhere (LIFT)” project, with the goal of securing optimal program design and pricing for working families in each common regulatory and utility service environment. LIFT’s research will serve both renters and homeowners.

“Groundswell’s research will shape fair, accessible, market-based financing and community solar subscription models that respect the dignity of the consumer and the business performance requirements of the investor,” said Groundswell CEO Michelle Moore. “We are thrilled and grateful that the U.S. Department of Energy’s support will enable us to rapidly expand access to solar and efficiency savings to the communities – both urban and rural – that will benefit from it the most.”

LIFT partners - Elevate Energy, Southface and Clean Energy Works - share the goal of creating innovative, market-based financing and consumer access models for clean energy. DOE funds will enable faster, more comprehensive collaboration between LIFT’s partner organizations, leveraging the group’s deep experience in energy services and community building to grow clean energy services exponentially. “Groundswell is blessed to work with our LIFT partner organizations - all of whom are passionate and visionary leaders in this field,” said Moore.

“Community solar promises to provide greater equity in and access to the clean energy economy, but financial barriers exist even in the most progressive markets. LIFT Solar seeks ways to overcome those barriers by validating innovative solutions,” said Elevate Energy CEO Anne Evens. “Elevate Energy will leverage our experience in outreach and engagement with vulnerable communities and translate it in a way that builds effective strategies to implement these solutions.”

“Southface is ecstatic to be counted among the LIFT awardees,” said Andrea Pinabell, president of Southface. “Alongside the lead partner Groundswell, we look forward to collaborating with Elevate Energy and Clean Energy Works to research opportunities for low-income communities to reap the benefits of clean energy technology.”

"The Pay As You Save® (PAYS®) system is already providing inclusive financing for building efficiency upgrades in several states,” said Clean Energy Works Founder Dr. Holmes Hummel, “and we are delighted to have this opportunity to develop a Solar Power PAYS solution for the first time, opening doors of opportunity to all."

About Groundswell

Groundswell is a mission-driven nonprofit organization that builds community power. Groundswell develops community solar projects and subscriber management programs that connect solar power with economic empowerment, enabling neighbors to work together to SharePower™ and substantial energy savings. Groundswell’s regional base focuses on the MidAtlantic and Southeast, with more than 50MW of solar power projects in development.

About Elevate Energy

Elevate Energy’s mission is to deliver smarter energy use for all. We design and implement programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most. As a national thought leader in the development of strategies for solar deployment in diverse and low-income communities, Elevate Energy has managed efficiency programs for ComEd, Ameren, Nicor, and Peoples Gas and administered programming for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Elevate Energy has also facilitated energy planning for states including Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, and renewable energy deployment strategies for the City of Chicago, Detroit, and Gary, Indiana.

About Southface

For the last 40 years, Southface, a premier clean energy and energy efficiency research, training and service organization, has increased the number of healthy and sustainable homes, workplaces and communities throughout the Southeast. It has certified 50,000 sustainable homes, trained over 5,000 individuals to pursue clean energy and green building jobs, and impacted 200 million square feet of green commercial space and 2 million square feet of residential green real estate in the Southeast and nationally.

About Clean Energy Works

Clean Energy Works connects champions of energy efficiency and renewable energy with resources that accelerate investment in clean energy solutions. A nonprofit organization, Clean Energy Works focuses on business plan development for utilities that are using Pay As You Save (PAYS®) financing to update their investment model for the 21st century.

About the Solar Energy Technologies Office 

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.   

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