The Community Solar Pilot Program is designed to expand access to renewable energy for low-income households that do not have the ability to participate in existing low-income solar photovoltaic (PV) programs — due to a lack of home ownership, or because of inadequate roofing for solar PV. Households participating in the Community Solar Pilot stand to benefit from reduced energy costs while communities can benefit from reduced air pollutant emissions associated with conventional energy generation.
The Community Solar Pilot Program, part of CSD’s Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), is designed to reduce energy costs for households that are not currently able to benefit from existing low-income solar programs. Most Californians face barriers to traditional rooftop solar, including those who rent, don’t have a roof suitable for solar, who live in an apartment building, or lack financing options. Well-designed community solar increases access to clean renewable energy by enabling multiple households or buildings to participate in a larger scale shared solar installation located in their community. The goal of CSD’s Community Solar Pilot Program is to provide funding for the implementation and testing of models to deliver community solar to low-income households in innovative ways that have the potential to be replicated elsewhere and to scale, reduce greenhouse gas and toxic air emissions, reduce household energy costs, and provide workforce development opportunities and other co-benefits to communities.
Following a competitive procurement, CSD selected two projects led by GRID Alternatives to receive funding under the Pilot. GRID has partnered with the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians and City of Richmond for these community solar projects.
GRID Alternatives Inland Empire was awarded $2.05 million to install a 994 kilowatt (kW) ground mounted solar array in partnership with the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Anza Electric Cooperative, Inc. The community solar system will be sited on Santa Rosa Tribal lands in Riverside County, an area designated as a low-income community, and will benefit approximately 38 homes on tribal land and 150-250 other low-income households served by Anza Electric. The project is expected to produce more than 42,000,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over the next 30 years and provide up to $5.4 million in savings to participants over the life of the project.
GRID Alternatives Bay Area was awarded $2.38 million to install a 989 kW solar array in partnership with the City of Richmond. The community solar system will be sited at the Port of Richmond and demonstrates how solar can play a key role in decarbonizing California’s ports. The project will benefit 155 low-income households in designated disadvantaged communities in Richmond. Approximately 80 to 95 percent of subscribers are anticipated to be residents of affordable housing properties near the Port of Richmond that are not good candidates for rooftop solar; and who will receive direct financial benefits equal to approximately 75 percent of typical renter electricity costs. The remaining 5 to 20 percent of subscribers will be local renters and homeowners that are not able to benefit from existing low-income solar programs. The community solar project is expected to generate approximately $81,000 per year in revenue over 20 years for distribution to local low-income households.
Each community solar project will provide solar installation training and meet specific local hiring and wage requirements. For the Santa Rosa project, residents from the Santa Rosa Band will participate in paid job training opportunities during the solar installation. Both projects are estimated to be completed by the first quarter of 2021.
Press Release: CSD Awards $4.4 Million for California’s First Low-Income Community Solar Projects
California Climate Investments is a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and for low-income households. For information, visit http://www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.