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), reduces 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 was to provide funding for the implementation and testing of a model to deliver community solar to low-income households in an innovative way that has 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.
GRID Alternatives Inland Empire was awarded $2.05 million in November 2018 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 project provided solar installation training ans residents from the Santa Rosa Band participated in paid job training opportunities during solar installation. The community solar system is sited on Santa Rosa Tribal lands in Riverside County, an area designated as a low-income community, and benefits 38 homes on tribal land and approximately 200 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.
The Community Solar Pilot project was completed in 2021.
GRID Alternatives: First Low-Income Community Solar Project in California Underway
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.