This blog was written by Alissa Schafer, former Solar Policy & Communications Manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | January 31, 2019
The Solar in Your Community Challenge is a $5 million contest to support innovative and replicable community-based solar business models and programs that will bring solar to underserved communities. Over the two-year challenge period, I provided coaching services to several teams here in the Southeast. Now, while we await the final judging results, I wanted to share some highlights from one of the teams, Team St. Pete Evergreen, out of the St. Petersburg, Florida area.
This team, in partnership with League of Women Voters, Solar Energy Loan Fund, Solar United Neighbors, and a SUPER team of solar volunteers, created a unique solar co-op program. What made the project special, besides the high number of kilowatts that actually got installed, was in how intentional the team was about doing info sessions in low to middle income areas (LMI).
Of the installs (393 kilowatts, plus 697 kilowatts under contract, for a total of 1.09 megawatts!) 28 percent of completed installations were in the LMI census tracks, and 43 percent of projects with signed contracts were in the LMI census tracks! I am very proud of those numbers and the work the team did. The team was also very proactive in seeking out alternative financing options suitable for a wide range of applicants, such as the Solar Energy Loan Fund.
The team hopes to use challenge prize money to continue expanding the project and eventually incorporating community solar into the program as well. Check out their final application video here:
You can learn more about the whole challenge HERE! Check back on that page in the coming months to find out who the prize winners are.