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Collaborating with Utilities to Meet Underserved Community Needs

Collaborating with Utilities to Meet Underserved Community Needs

Full Title: Collaborating with Utilities to Meet Underserved Community Needs: A Guide to Equitable Commercial Solar and Solar + Storage Deployment
Author(s): Erifili Draklellis, Rachel Gold, and Roberto Zanchi
Publisher(s): Rocky Mountain Institute
Publication Date: May 1, 2024
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

Communities of color and low-income populations dedicate a disproportionate amount of their income to pay for energy. They also experience more frequent and prolonged service disruptions, impacting community health and safety.

When designed correctly, commercial solar + storage installations have the potential to ameliorate these issues. However, utility programs created to support such installations are frequently underutilized because communities often lack the time and resources needed to access them. Further, historically, few utilities have had the motivation and incentives or experience to account for this barrier.

RMI provided process support to Solar Energy Innovation Network teams, and described their experiences in accessing these clean energy resources to support historically underserved communities in our latest report. The report also outlines the roles of key stakeholders (e.g., utilities, building owners, and community organizations) in supporting program delivery and recommended practices to collaborate to meet community needs. The report focuses on commercial solar and solar + storage resources, including solar + storage microgrids. These technologies can offer benefits to communities who do not own their own properties. When designed to act as a “resilience hub,” they can also support communities in times of electricity disruption.

The report includes a step-by-step guide to collaborating with utilities to implement programs for historically underserved customers. Utilities can support these projects with financing assistance, modernized rate designs, and, in the deployment phase, technical assistance for system design and interconnection.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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