In Washington, D.C., the 2008 Clean and Affordable Energy Act established a Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF) and created a “Sustainable Energy Utility.” The SETF is funded by a surcharge to all electric and natural gas ratepayers in the District of Columbia. In 2012, the D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) launched a Small-Scale Solar Initiative, a pilot for low-income residents in Wards 7 and 8, which resulted in 54 photovoltaic installations to reduce their energy costs. At no upfront cost to the homeowners, the installations were financed using a combination of SRECs, federal tax incentives, DCSEU incentives, and contractor financing.
The successful Small-Scale Solar Initiative evolved into the 2015 Solar Advantage Plus Program, which provided rebates to authorized solar installers for installing solar panels on income-qualified low-income homes across every ward in the District. Funded by the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), and implemented by the DCSEU, the Solar Advantage Plus Program covers the full cost to install solar panels on single-family homes owned or rented by income-qualified low-income District residents. Authorized solar installers received rebates of $2.50 per watt DC, with a maximum rebate of $10,000 per system.
Demand for the program, now called the Affordable Solar Program, is very high and the DCSEU is funded to serve 140 homes in fiscal year 2016. Rebates to authorized solar installers are $2.70 per watt DC. At the end of fiscal year 2016, DCSEU will have installed over 500 solar PV systems through its income-qualified solar program.