Expanding Access to Solar in DC

By Emily Steiver on March 7, 2012

As many of you know the central mission of DC SUN is to make Solar affordable and accessible to all residents of DC. We are working on a lot of different things and we always have room for more volunteers and leaders of more projects and initiatives. ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY they must go together.

To give a sense of a few highlights.

1. Community Solar Legislation:
 This is our big push right now. In partnership with the Sierra Club and with technical assistance from Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) we are working to make it possible to develop solar gardens. It will let people who live in apartments or rent participate in community solar gardens and “virtually” net meter their solar production to their energy bill. For more info see DC SUN website http://sites.google.com/site/dcsolarunitedneighborhoods/key-issues-and-committees/community-renewable-energy-act-of-2012 . Stay tuned for more updates soon!

2. Community emPOWERment Fund:
 This fund is made up of ‘referral fees’ from many of the installers that have a close working relationship with our members. The money goes to help non-profits, churches, schools and independent businesses go solar. It has the potential of helping reduce costs for organizations that our essential to our local communities. We are working with a number of non-profits based in Ward 8 that provide basic services such as food, childcare and medical services.

3. Non Profit Bulk Purchase:
 We are Developing a bulk purchase program for non-profits that want to go solar. By working together we will lower costs for all of the participants. We have been focusing mostly on organizations in Wards 7 and 8 but the project is open to non-profits city wide.

4. REBATE Program Phase II: We have proposed to the DDOE and the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) to develop a second phase solar rebate program for FY 13. We feel that we need to take care of the hundreds of people on the waiting list, AND we have proposed that 50% of the new rebate program be a higher level of reimbursement and be reserved exclusively with low income families. Combined with the Community Solar legislation– this has the potential to expand solar much more broadly in DC

5. Proposals to the DC SEU: The DC SEU is supposed to develop programs specifically aimed atlow income solar. We have been pushing them to engage with us in developing those programs. DC SUN met with the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and began discussions on ways to collaborate directly. We will be participating in their outreach fair this Spring and we are discussing the exciting possibility of adding solar to their low income roof replacement program. We have proposed to the SEU that they partner with DHCD to make this project a reality. It is a perfect match as DHCD has all of the administrative programs in place for low income roof replacement and the DC SEU has u- allocated funding for low income solar. DHCD is very enthusiastic about this idea. So far we have not gotten a response back from the SEU or DDOE which approves SEU programs.

6. Outreach in Ward 7: Ward 7 has been our top priority for outreach this year. We have worked in partnership with a number of local organizers including Irv Sheffy and Dennis Chestnut. We have recruited a dynamic new leader of the Ward 7 Solar Coop and we have been conducting outreach meetings in the Ward. We are actively looking for more Ward 7 participants to join and strengthen the Ward 7 Coop. The culmination of this effort will be the June 16th Solar Fair at HD Woodson HS. Stay tuned for exciting news alerts on this initiative over the next few weeks. Voliunteers needed for this effort.

In the works:
Innovative Financing for Low Income Housing and Community Solar…
Other bulk purchase programs?