Affordable housing communities get new solar power option

Affordable housing communities get new solar power option

A new solar service from SolarCity makes it possible for some California developers and residents to pay less for solar power than the pay for utility costs. Monthly utility costs are the second largest bill most families face, after housing expenses.

SolarCity introduced a new solar service that can make it possible for affordable housing developers, builders and residents to pay less for solar electricity than they currently pay for utility power.

As part of its new service, SolarCity will finance and install solar power systems on rooftops and carports of affordable housing communities. The electricity generated by the system is distributed among common areas and individual housing units. Residents receive credits on their utility bills based on the amount of solar electricity allocated to their units, made possible by a policy called virtual net metering.

In California, SolarCity has partnered with Everyday Energy, a developer and advocate for the economically disadvantaged, to help extend the benefits of solar to the residents of affordable housing communities.  Everyday Energy analyzes residents' electricity usage and helps developers direct savings to individual residential units based on solar production and usage. SolarCity's new service joins a growing list of community solar models that extend solar cost saving opportunities to renters that have previously been available only to homeowners.

"We expect the collaboration between SolarCity and Everyday Energy to make it possible for a broad range of multifamily affordable housing communities to save money on energy costs that can instead be spent on food, healthcare and other critical needs," said Scott Sarem, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Everyday Energy.

SolarCity also makes it possible for single-family home builders to install affordable solar power on new homes before the owners even move in. Builders offer solar power to residents—without delaying construction timelines or adding to the purchase price of the home—while new homeowners can save money from day one. SolarCity recently worked with Habitat for Humanity of San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys to provide affordable solar power on 78 new homes for returning U.S. veterans.

"There is a critical need to expand access to solar to communities that have not traditionally experienced as much growth as others," said Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D-Stockton). "SolarCity should be commended for creating dedicated programs that target the hard to reach consumers while putting hard earned money back into the pockets of those who need it the most."

Key to SolarCity's new offering in California is the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)'s Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program and the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) administered by the California Energy Commission. To date, MASH has enabled 22.7 MW of solar capacity across 353 projects statewide that serve multi-family affordable housing.  Thanks to the leadership of the California Legislature and CPUC, an additional $54 million in incentive funding was recently made available to the MASH program with a goal of installing an additional 35 megawatts of new solar capacity. The NSHP provides incentives for multi-family affordable housing projects where at least 20 percent of the project units are dedicated for extremely low-, very low-, lower-, or moderate-income households for at least 10 years.

"The Legislature has supported policies such as MASH and NSHP because they are designed to give an extra boost to a market that is difficult to transform," said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). "These programs also support the financial innovation that must occur in order to ensure that solar is a mainstream alternative for not just a few, but for all communities in California."

The new service furthers expands the accessibility of solar to all communities, will help create local installation jobs in low income communities and ensure that these families have access to clean, healthier sources of energy.

Read more about solar power for homes.

Topics: Photovoltaic / Solar Panels, Solar Power, Sustainable Communities

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