In 2017, we launched a Low- to Moderate-Income (LMI) Community Solar Program and we aim to do more in 2018. The first array was in partnership with Green Mountain Power (GMP) and was built on their Service Center Roof in Middlebury. Fifty percent of that array was reserved for Vermonters at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. (For a family of four, that’s a monthly income of $4,100.)
According to Efficiency Vermont’s white paper, Mapping Total Energy Burden (July 2016) “a substantial number of Vermont households live in fuel poverty or are in danger of falling into such poverty […] In Vermont, high electric burdens are most often borne by households with low incomes. Many low-income Vermonters with high energy burdens may find energy costs competing with other necessities like housing, food, and medicine.”
To make our already accessible Community Solar Program more appropriate for LMI Vermonters, we removed even more barriers to entry. The only qualification for these customers was that they have good bill payment history with GMP. There was no minimum credit score required and as always with SunCommon, no down payment. Community Solar members will receive a 7% discount on all of the power they receive from their membership.
There was great response to this program and SunCommon had dozens of signups within days of launching. The Community Solar Array was filled quickly and through this program, 15 LMI households are now taking advantage of the financial savings of solar and getting to boast their support of clean, renewable energy. We are actively working to create more LMI opportunities in Green Mountain Power territory and for the other utilities.