GW Today interviewed Director Ronen on the GW Solar Institute's recent release of a whitepaper with DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) on how to best scale the deployment of solar energy to benefit DC residents with limited means.
As solar energy becomes more popular in the US, Director Ronen commented on the importance of making sure that all Americans have the opportunity to obtain clean, affordable energy.
"Solar is booming, but it’s primarily affluent neighborhoods and rooftops that are taking advantage of it. Some industries are looking at where we can go next on the residential side. We’re also looking for what’s good for society. Why can’t low-income people have the benefits of solar? The returns of solar are pretty clear to those of us who study it every day— you’re guaranteed to get your money back within a few years. Still, it’s a new loaning area for banks, and one of the areas the government could help is to mitigate their perceived risk."
The whitepaper - which represents the consensus views of more than 70 industry leaders and stakeholders - recommends using a private-sector administered loan gurantee program, coupled with a low-income rebate program and virtual net metering provisions, to address the unique challenges of allowing low-income residents to benefit from solar energy investments.
Director Ronen also commented on the flexibility of the proposed programs and the potential benefit for DC's residents who rent, live in multi-family homes, or other arrangements.
"Say you are a renter, you don’t own your own building; there could be a solar array built on another building, and you could own a portion of it. The low-income renter would receive annual dividends—basically the value of the electricity—every year for the life of that system as a credit on their utility bill. Harnessing community solar could have some cool, innovative expansion methods."
Read the full GW Today Story, "A Plan to Boost Low-Income Solar"
To learn more about the whitepaper recommendations, view the executive summary and download a copy of Consensus Recommendations on How to Catalyze Low-Income Solar in DC.