Single-Family Solar

Overview

Homeowners across the country have typically participated in the solar market by installing solar directly on their property to meet a portion of their own energy needs.  Home ownership rates vary starkly among low-income households versus their wealthier counterparts, but nationwide approximately thirty-five percent of low-income families own their own homes. Coupling the core policies used to develop a strong rooftop solar market with specific provisions for ensuring low-income participation can effectively expand solar access among single-family homeowners. The definition of low-income varies by location but is typically defined as 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), which is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition.

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Successful Strategies

Low-income single-family rooftop programs vary across states, but the most successful are those that  overcome a family’s inability to pay upfront costs, and provide significant energy cost reductions from day one. Key strategies include:

  • Net metering or other mechanism to direct full value of solar to the customer
  • Significant, predictable upfront rebates or other incentives to reduce the overall cost and increase long-term benefits
  • Ability to assign rebates to the installer, provided there is a guaranteed pass through of savings to the customer
  • Strong consumer protections against predatory lending and misleading sales tactics
  • On-bill financing or other easy means of repayment
  • Elimination of credit requirements
  • Stable long-term funding source
  • Pairing solar with complementary programs like energy efficiency

Click here for a summary of state approaches to low-income single-family solar by program, carveout, and incentive (PDF.)