By Marriele Mango and Abbe Ramanan, Clean Energy Group
Solar+storage is increasingly being explored by low-income service providers, such as affordable housing developers, community institutions, and municipal facilities, to improve resilience in the event of an outage and reduce energy costs. Despite an increase in the occurrence and duration of power outages due to extreme weather and climate change, penetration of solar+storage in these markets still remains low.
To gain more insight into what barriers are preventing greater implementation of solar+storage in under-served communities, Clean Energy Group (CEG) conducted a survey of 60 municipalities, community organizations, affordable housing developers, and technical service providers working in low-income communities. CEG overviews these survey results and provides recommendations to overcome barriers to solar+storage development in the recent report, Overcoming Barriers to Solar+Storage in Critical Facilities Serving Low-Income Communities: A Survey of Service Providers. CEG released a previous report, Overcoming Barriers to Solar and Storage in Affordable Housing, that explores the results of this survey that pertained specifically to affordable housing developers.
On-the-Ground Realities of Solar+Storage Development
CEG spoke with organizations from affordable housing, emergency services, and community services to dig deeper into their experience developing solar+storage. The following are key takeaways from those conversations.
Energy Resilience vs Energy Saving: Many affordable housing developers indicated in their survey responses that energy bill savings are just as, if not more, of a motivation for pursuing solar+storage as energy resilience. Balancing these two motivations can be difficult for affordable housing developers, who must justify the economic case for solar+storage while weighing the needs of a larger portfolio of properties. For Herb Stevens, CEO of New Partners Community Solar, it was essential for the Maycroft Resiliency Center solar+storage project to benefit affordable housing residents both through resilience and reduced utility costs:
“This project makes a connection for the residents of