On April 20, the White House announced a new partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that will develop and pilot a digital platform to enable more low-income households to access community solar energy by connecting project developers with beneficiaries of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The LIHEAP program, administered by HHS, helps eligible low-income households with home energy costs. Connecting NCSP to this existing program will lower the cost of customer acquisition, reduce electricity bills for low-income households, and accelerate the deployment of community solar projects.
Community solar programs make solar power more accessible to all Americans, especially those with low to moderate incomes, because they allow energy users to subscribe to a shared system of solar panels, often located within their community. At least 21 states and the District of Columbia have developed community solar-related programs that have direct exclusions for low- and moderate-income customers.
A persistent problem identified by community solar developers is identifying subscribers who meet income eligibility criteria. Access to pre-qualified applicants through LIHEAP could fill a portion of subscriptions for community solar systems while providing energy assistance and providing long-term energy load reductions.
A collaborative team from NCSP, HHS, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop the platform. The team will coordinate with utilities, state and local governments, and industry, and plans to pilot the platform in three to five states as part of the NCSP state collaboration. This partnership will support the NCSP’s goal of enabling community solar systems to power the equivalent of 5 million homes and create $1 billion in energy bill savings by 2025.
To join the partnership, click here.
Department of Energy news article