Low-income residents often use a disproportionate amount of their income to cover basic needs and lack access to clean energy with their limited resources. This can be especially true during the hot summer months, when many homes are running additional cooling systems or fans. To help reduce this cost for low income residents, we propose a program which uses either the excess generation or a predetermined portion, such as 20%, of the energy produced by local residential and commercial solar PV systems to lower the energy bills of low income residents by utilizing net metering. Those who own a solar PV system can opt to donate their excess or predetermined portion of energy for use by the program, which in turn applies this energy towards qualifying low income residents' bills within the same utility. To qualify as a recipient, a resident's income must be less than 150% of the federal poverty level but also not be receiving aid from section 8 housing authorities or similar programs. Public policy may have to be passed in order to allow the claiming of tax credits equivalent to the retail rate value of donated energy. We expect such a program would benefit the recipients of the utility bill credits by reducing their utility costs, the donor who receives tax credits in exchange for the energy, solar developers who can worry less about over-sizing a system and producing excess energy on a wasteful level, and utilities whose Renewable Portfolio Standards goals will be easier met with larger residential installations.
Hieb, Nicholas and Nichols, Dallas, "DEVELOPING A CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM TO PROVIDE LOW-INCOME AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COMMUNITIES ACCESS TO ENERGY FROM EXISTING SOLAR PV INSTALLATIONS" (2019). University Research Symposium. 269.