How cities are serving to low- and moderate-income households set up photo voltaic with Solarize campaigns
Residential photo voltaic has grown tremendously over the previous decade, rising from an put in capability of simply 1.4 GW in 2012 to 23.2 GW in 2021. Photo voltaic can be changing into extra accessible: nationwide knowledge exhibits that the common revenue degree of photo voltaic adopters is declining. Nevertheless, regardless of this enhance in photo voltaic for all revenue ranges, current census-level knowledge exhibits that structural inequalities, together with racial variety and schooling ranges, proceed to hinder equitable adoption on the native degree.
With assist from the current local weather invoice, the Inflation Discount Act, native governments have a possibility to deal with this photo voltaic fairness hole by launching inclusive “Solarize,” or neighborhood bulk-purchasing, campaigns. When structured equitably, these campaigns might help low- and moderate-income (LMI) owners entry photo voltaic by lowering prices and addressing advertising and outreach boundaries. Key inclusive parts embody partnering with native community-based organizations (CBOs) for decision-making and tailor-made neighborhood outreach, creating LMI-specific incentives, and utilizing a community-driven installer choice course of.
In 2021 and 2022, RMI supported over 20 native governments throughout the US in planning and launching inclusive Solarize campaigns. In complete, these campaigns helped practically 1,200 households set up greater than 10 MW of residential photo voltaic. These installations are estimated to avoid wasting households over $8 million and keep away from over 106,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over their 25-year lifespan, equivalent to planting over 1.76 million bushes. Round 65% of those installations occurred in low-, moderate-, or middle-income neighborhoods (outlined as <120 p.c space median revenue), in contrast with the nationwide common of 43%.
To assist different native governments launch equity-focused Solarize campaigns in their very own communities, now we have compiled key takeaways and success tales from the communities that participated in RMI’s Solarize Cohort. Moreover, we created a six-step information with accompanying assets and templates to stroll communities by the complete strategy of operating a Solarize marketing campaign.
Kind Robust Group Partnerships to Drive Higher Native Participation
Inclusive campaigns are overwhelmingly based mostly on robust partnerships with each nationwide Solarize specialists and community-level organizations. Deciding on a nationwide Solarize skilled to guide a neighborhood marketing campaign, corresponding to Photo voltaic Crowdsource (SCS) or Photo voltaic United Neighbors (SUN), can convey a long time of business expertise, take away potential governmental procurement boundaries, and sometimes speed up marketing campaign timelines. CBOs are additionally crucial companions for all campaigns, as they’re finest positioned to make key marketing campaign choices on behalf of the neighborhood and assist drive native participation.
A number of RMI-supported campaigns constructed robust partnership coalitions from the early growth stage, bringing native views to all phases of the method:
The 2021 Miami-Dade Photo voltaic Co-op included greater than 10 companions, together with Catalyst Miami and South Dade NAACP Department, to characterize the voices of marginalized residents all through the marketing campaign.
The 2022 Solarize OKC marketing campaign included a steering committee of practically 10 native organizations, together with RestoreOKC and the Oklahoma Photo voltaic Affiliation, to set equitable objectives, create outreach methods, and produce native views to the installer choice course of.
The 2022 Columbus Photo voltaic-Co-op partnered with an area nonprofit, IMPACT Group Action, to combine its “Empowered!” clear power jobs coaching program to coach 17 BIPOC and girls residents.
The 2022 Solarize Irvine marketing campaign labored with an area nonprofit, OC Goes Photo voltaic, to handle its marketing campaign and produce its native expertise to the hassle.
Safe Extra Funding to Scale back the Value of Photo voltaic for LMI Residents
Whereas Solarize marketing campaign members sometimes obtain a ten–20% bulk buying low cost, it’s sometimes not sufficient to scale back the upfront price barrier for a lot of LMI households to put in photo voltaic. To make their campaigns extra inclusive, native governments ought to prioritize securing funding to supply additional LMI photo voltaic reductions and accomplice with mission-aligned monetary establishments for low-interest financing. These methods allow LMI residents to obtain rapid power financial savings with out taking over overly burdensome debt. Solarize marketing campaign outreach may also be paired with neighborhood photo voltaic choices to incorporate renters or owners who’re unable to put in photo voltaic.
A number of RMI-supported campaigns built-in monetary options for LMI residents by funding LMI installations by native funds or federal grants, utilizing distinctive financing fashions, and providing accessible photo voltaic loans:
The 2021 Solarize Asheville Buncombe marketing campaign and 2022 Solarize KC marketing campaign every devoted over $100,000 in native authorities funds to completely fund lower-income installations.
The 2021 Photo voltaic for All NOLA marketing campaign group lead, PosiGen, used a novel financing mannequin to leverage numerous funding to supply photo voltaic leases that price lower than a family’s photo voltaic invoice financial savings.
The 2022 Photo voltaic Over Louisville marketing campaign leveraged $100,000 in federal Group Growth Block Grant Program funding to pay for low-income photo voltaic installations.
The 2022 Solarize Santa Fe marketing campaign raised $50,000 by a personal donor to create LMI incentives and partnered with the Northern New Mexico College Staff Federal Credit score Union to supply public faculty households extra reasonably priced and accessible photo voltaic loans.
Establish Trusted Marketing campaign Messengers to Attain Traditionally Deprived Residents
Given traditionally inequitable photo voltaic advertising and outreach, predatory lending, and photo voltaic scams, inclusive Solarize campaigns should deal with constructing belief. Profitable campaigns ship schooling and outreach by trusted sources and use messaging that addresses the precise wants of marginalized communities. Having a mayor or different influential figures publicly assist the marketing campaign is usually a significantly highly effective device in attracting earned media and reaching a large viewers. Asking trusted CBO companions to advertise the marketing campaign throughout their native community may also be key in reaching a precedence demographic, corresponding to LMI residents.
Many RMI-supported campaigns demonstrated the ability of enlisting trusted marketing campaign messengers, together with neighboring communities, native local weather advocates, public officers, and utilities:
The 2021 Solarize Atlanta marketing campaign and 2021 Solarize Savannah marketing campaign reached a broader viewers with practically 400 sign-ups by collectively launching their campaigns in parallel and partnering with native nonprofits Harambee Home and Ayika Options to create their neighborhood outreach technique.
The 2022 El Paso Photo voltaic Co-op labored with native nonprofits Eco El Paso and Dawn El Paso to pair outreach for its marketing campaign with advocacy for lowering utility photo voltaic charges, which forestall many LMI residents from cost-effectively benefiting from photo voltaic.
The 2021 Houston Photo voltaic Co-op kicked off with a press convention and press release from the mayor’s workplace, which led to the vast majority of the marketing campaign’s practically 300 sign-ups.
The 2021 St. Petersburg Photo voltaic Co-op leveraged a utility invoice insert to succeed in a lot of residents and helped 70 households set up photo voltaic.
Launch an Inclusive Solarize Marketing campaign At the moment
To assist different native governments run their very own Solarize campaigns, RMI has launched an Inclusive Solarize marketing campaign information. This toolkit features a six-step information with accompanying templates and assets to jumpstart an inclusive Solarize marketing campaign in your neighborhood this yr.
Please attain out to Jackie Lombardi (email@example.com) or Ryan Shea (firstname.lastname@example.org) for help or questions.
By Jackie Lombardi, Ryan Shea, © 2023 Rocky Mountain Institute. Revealed with permission. Initially posted on RMI.