Community solar projects are growing nationwide. Are they serving our low-and moderate-income neighbors fairly, delivering equal access and the benefits of clean energy with dignity? The US Department of Energy wanted to know! 

The DOE awarded Groundswell and its partners Elevate Energy, Southface, and Clean Energy Works funds for a research collaboration. The project, called Accelerating Low-Income Financing and Transactions for Solar Access Everywhere or LIFT Solar Everywhere” will determine the optimal financing and program elements (customer experience factors) that community solar projects need to best serve every member of our communities, and especially our energy burdened neighbors. LIFT will use data from energy efficiency, solar and community solar programs nationwide to analyze how best to serve low-income families.

The LIFT collaborative met in Washington in late June to create a strategic plan and draft research designs and protocols for adding new data and projects that might emerge during the three-year research period. LIFT partners also initiated the formation of a Research Advisory Council– financial and regulatory experts, utility commissioners, social scientists with expertise in data analysis – to guide LIFT’s research designs and help amWorCplify our discoveries. 

In July, Groundswell CEO Michelle Moore spoke at the Coalition for Community Solar Alliance SUMMIT, appealing to the more than 400 companies and solar allies in attendance for data to use in LIFT analysis. "LIFT analysis can radically expand solar access for our low-income neighbors,” said Moore. 

The LIFT partners are currently conducting a ‘data call’ to companies, non-profits, labs, utilities, and academic institutions; requesting relevant data on energy related low-income consumer behaviors and financial results, Ultimately, LIFT will createt a ‘tool kit’ with a matrix of optimal community solar program elements that can help rapidly accelerate program success for cities, utilities, or solar developers. Those interested in contributing community solar data as part of the nationwide research analysis should contact Chris Nichols

TAGS: community power, forward energy, voices