In May 2019, Groundswell, with its partner organizations Elevate Energy, Southface and Clean Energy Works, launched a three-year research and demonstration program with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). Groundswell’s “LIFT” program will conduct research and develop program designs to rapidly accelerate accessible, market-based, scalable community solar and energy efficiency programs for low-income households and communities in at least a dozen states.

Groundswell leads the collaborative “Accelerating Low-Income Financing and Transactions for Solar Access Everywhere (LIFT Solar Everywhere)” project, with the goal of developing 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.

Each LIFT partner will contribute actual energy efficiency, solar and community solar customer data to the research effort from the many community solar and clean energy projects that the groups have established serving low-and moderate-income families.  LIFT will also gather and analyze data nationally from similar community solar programs, improving accuracy and developing strong, thriving program designs to serve low-income families.

For more information or questions about the LIFT Program, please contact Chris Nichols (


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 Institute

Southface Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, is a leader in sustainable advocacy, building, planning and operations across the U.S. With a mission to create a healthy and equitably built environment for all, Southface’s consulting services, workforce development, research and policy practices are supporting better homes, workplaces and communities. Experts in the fields of resource efficiency, building tech and organizational sustainability since 1978, Southface is committed to building a regenerative economy to meet tomorrow’s needs today.

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 Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development in the solar technologies with the goal of improving the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at The LIFT Solar Everywhere program is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, under Award Number No. DE-EE0008567.

LIFT Solar Research Collaborative Update: June/July

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

LIFT Program Officially Kicks Off at CCSA

Nationwide Call for Data

On July 19, 2019, Michelle Moore, Groundswell’s CEO, announced the official start of LIFT at the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) Summit in Philadelphia. Michelle shared ideas for innovative financial and customer service programs currently used by LIFT partners. She asked the many industry participants and solar developers present to share data with LIFT as part of a collective effort to define best practices that will make community solar programs even more accessible and affordable. “The LIFT analysis stands to radically expand solar access to our low-income neighbors allowing us to share clean, solar energy more broadly with those in our communities who are otherwise left out," Moore said. Those interested in contributing community solar data as part of the nationwide research analysis should contact Chris Nichols (