Groundswell-led Collaboration Begins Research to Expand Solar Access for Low-Income Communities, Funded by U.S. Department of Energy

For Immediate Release

With partners Elevate Energy, Southface and Clean Energy Works, Groundswell will accelerate access to unsubsidized community solar service in at least a dozen states

Washington, DC – Groundswell, a non-profit organization that builds community power connecting solar power to economic empowerment, with its partner organizations Elevate Energy, Southface Institute and Clean Energy Works, has launched a three-year research and demonstration program with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO). Groundswell’s “LIFT” program will conduct research and develop program designs to rapidly accelerate accessible, market-based, scalable community solar and energy efficiency programs for low-income households and communities in at least a dozen states.

Groundswell leads the collaborative “Accelerating Low-Income Financing and Transactions for Solar Access Everywhere (LIFT)” project, with the goal of developing optimal program design and pricing for working families in each common regulatory and utility service environment. LIFT’s research will serve both renters and homeowners.

“Groundswell’s research will shape fair, accessible, market-based financing and community solar subscription models that respect the dignity of the consumer and the business performance requirements of the investor,” said Groundswell CEO Michelle Moore. “We are thrilled and grateful for the U.S. Department of Energy’s support. This project will enable us to rapidly expand access to solar and efficiency savings to communities – both urban and rural – that will benefit from it the most.”

LIFT partners - Elevate Energy, Southface Institute and Clean Energy Works - share the goal of creating innovative, market-based financing and consumer access models for clean energy. DOE funds will enable faster, more comprehensive collaboration between LIFT’s partner organizations, leveraging the group’s deep experience in energy services and community building to grow clean energy services exponentially. “Groundswell is blessed to work with our LIFT partner organizations - all of whom are passionate and visionary leaders in this field,” said Moore.

Each LIFT partner will contribute actual efficiency, solar and community solar customer data to the research effort from the many community solar and clean energy projects that the groups have established serving low-and moderate-income families.  LIFT will also gather and analyze data nationally from similar community solar programs, improving accuracy and developing strong, thriving programs to serve low-income families.

“Community solar promises to provide greater equity in and access to the clean energy economy, but financial barriers exist even in the most progressive markets. LIFT Solar seeks ways to overcome those barriers by validating innovative solutions,” said Elevate Energy CEO Anne Evens. “Elevate Energy will leverage our experience in outreach and engagement with vulnerable communities and translate it in a way that builds effective strategies to implement these solutions.”

“Southface is thrilled to be counted among the LIFT awardees,” said Andrea Pinabell, president of Southface Institute. “Alternative financing is a key component to expand energy efficiency and renewable energy.  This award leverages the work that Southface has been doing alongside communities for decades. We look forward to collaborating with our partners to research opportunities for low-income communities to reap the benefits of clean and renewable energy technology.”

"The Pay As You Save® (PAYS®) system is already providing inclusive financing for building efficiency upgrades in several states,” said Clean Energy Works founder Dr. Holmes Hummel, “and we are delighted to have this opportunity to develop a Solar Power PAYS® solution for the first time, opening doors of opportunity to all."

About Groundswell

Groundswell is a mission-driven nonprofit organization that builds community power. Groundswell develops community solar projects and subscriber management programs that connect solar power with economic empowerment, enabling neighbors to work together to SharePower™ and substantial energy savings. Groundswell manages more than 50MW of solar power projects in development, focusing on low-income families in more than seven states, with a regional base in the MidAtlantic and Southeast.

About Elevate Energy

Elevate Energy’s mission is to deliver smarter energy use for all. We design and implement programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most. As a national thought leader in the development of strategies for solar deployment in diverse and low-income communities, Elevate Energy has managed efficiency programs for ComEd, Ameren, Nicor, and Peoples Gas and administered programming for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Elevate Energy has also facilitated energy planning for states including Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, and renewable energy deployment strategies for the City of Chicago, Detroit, and Gary, Indiana.

About Southface Institute

Southface Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, is a leader in sustainable advocacy, building, planning and operations across the U.S. With a mission to create a healthy and equitably built environment for all, Southface’s consulting services, workforce development, research and policy practices are supporting better homes, workplaces and communities. Experts in the fields of resource efficiency, building tech and organizational sustainability since 1978, Southface is committed to building a regenerative economy to meet tomorrow’s needs today.

About Clean Energy Works

Clean Energy Works connects champions of energy efficiency and renewable energy with resources that accelerate investment in clean energy solutions. A nonprofit organization, Clean Energy Works focuses on business plan development for utilities that are using Pay As You Save (PAYS®) financing to update their investment model for the 21st century.

About the Solar Energy Technologies Office

The Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development in the technology areas of photovoltaics, concentrating solar-thermal power, and systems integration [or, "solar technologies"] with the goal of improving the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.

The LIFT Solar Everywhere program is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, under Award Number No. DE-EE0008567.

For more information, please contact Emily Proctor, Senior Communications Manager, Southface Institute, at eproctor@southface.org.

Media Inquiries

For more information about Southface or to arrange an interview with our President Andrea Pinabell, members of the media should contact: communications@southface.org.

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