Newly-Released Research Reveals How to Expand Solar Access for Low- and Moderate-Income Households

Washington, DC, July 29, 2022 – Groundswell and Elevate recently released three major new research reports analyzing the market growth of community solar serving low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, the evolution of the customer experience, and financial structures of projects serving LMI households to determine how to expand solar access. All three research reports are part of the Accelerating Low-Income Financing and Transactions for Solar Access Everywhere (LIFT Solar) initiative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO).

Key findings, which are illustrated on the accompanying fact sheet, include:

  • LMI and non-LMI community solar customers identify helping the environment and saving money as their top motivations. At the same time, communicating savings stands out as the most difficult aspect of community solar programming for program administrators to manage successfully. 
  • Community solar serving LMI households is one of the fastest growing segments of the solar industry. Most projects are located in states with specific legislation enabling LMI access.
  • The financial returns of solar projects serving LMI customers are no different than projects serving more affluent customers.
  • Common barriers to developing LMI community solar projects include the relatively small size of projects/portfolios and the complexity of navigating affordable housing regulations when installing solar projects.

Vito Greco, Director of Solar Programs, of Elevate, commented “Our research shows that low- and moderate- income subscribers are a critical and growing segment of the community solar industry and one that developers cannot ignore. Further, their motivations and needs are not different than any other subscriber.”

“Capital stacks are highly varied and place-based due to the impact of state-level policies on the solar market, and innovative finance models are therefore only scalable across states with highly similar market structures,” added Dr. Elvis Moleka, VP of Groundswell Labs and Data Science. “The value of state-level solar renewable energy credits (RECs) as well as the bill credit value of solar, however, emerged as key drivers of both rates of return to investors and as drivers of inclusive solar savings.”

Each research report can be downloaded from Groundswell’s website as:

Analysis of Solar Project Finance Research

Customer Experience for LMI Community Solar Subscribers

The Growth of Community Solar Serving LMI Households 

About Elevate

Elevate is a nonprofit organization that works nationally and is headquartered in Chicago. Elevate designs and implements programs to ensure that everyone has clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities —no matter who they are or where they live. 

About Groundswell

Groundswell is a 501c3 nonprofit that builds community power through equitable community solar projects and resilience centers, clean energy programs that reduce energy burdens, and pioneering research initiatives that help light the way to clean energy futures for all. Groundswell leads clean energy programs and projects in five states including the District of Columbia, serving more than 5,500 income-qualified customers with more than $2.75 million per year in clean energy savings. Learn more at or @grndswell.

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