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eLab Accelerator 2019

Solar and Storage for Disadvantaged Communities

Project Objective

Explore the development of an LMI behind-the-meter solar + storage program, both to generate savings for participating households as well as to create net benefits for all utility customers from flexible load control.

Team Members


  • Lisa Hu, Energy Equity Program Manager, Greenlining

  • Michael Kadish, Executive Director, GridAlternatives

  • Jessica Lim, Principal Manager, Marketing, Southern California Edison

  • Michael Norbeck, Senior Manager of Grid Services, SunRun

  • Gary Stern, Managing Director, Southern California Edison

  • Rob Thomas, Principal Manager, Forecasting and Economic Analysis, Southern California Edison

Progress Made to Date

Pre-Accelerator

Since 2008, SCE has managed low-income solar programs giving more than $100 million in incentives through the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) and Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) to lower the cost of solar installations. As of Dec. 2018, more than 3,000 projects have been completed and approximately $49 million in incentives have been paid through SASH.

Consistent with AB 693 and funded by portions of GHG funds of up to $100M per year, the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program has an overall target of installing at least 300 MWs of generating capacity on qualified properties by 2030. The program provides incentives for the installation of solar distributed generation projects sited on existing multifamily affordable housing.

Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) was revamped in 2017 to set aside $26 million of the programs’ budget for low-income and disadvantaged communities who are interested in adding energy storage. The current residential and non-residential step 3 incentive is at $0.50/Wh. Recent legislation extends the SGIP for five years, extending rebates for consumers through 2025. It would add up to $800 million statewide to the program.

In 2019, SCE has several new solar and green rate program offerings to serve disadvantaged communities (DACs) in its service territory, including DAC-SASH, DAC Green Tariff, and DAC Community Solar.

Post-Accelerator

At Accelerator, the team identified ways to improve disadvantaged community participation in clean energy programs, to align services with community needs and to increase program enrollment. The team identified significant barriers to DAC adoption of clean energy, which have resulted in under-utilization of clean energy opportunities. To unlock this challenge, team members agreed to take a community-first approach, in which we work directly with partners in DAC communities to co-develop new program designs and help more customers benefit from clean energy investments.

Project Background Information

With favorable policy and incentives, rooftop solar has grown tremendously in California, from 1,354 MW (residential, lower than 10 MW) to more than 4,500 MW in the past five years or more than 300% growth. Recent legislation will continue to support growth, as California is the first U.S. state to require new homes to have rooftop solar panels.

Now the challenge is to move forward in a way that optimizes the benefits of the array of DERs to support clean, reliable and affordable energy for all communities and customers while establishing a sustainable and optimized business model for the utility. This includes finding the right incentives and programs for low income and disadvantaged communities (DACs) that can help overcome the barriers for those communities (home ownership, roof condition, cost for solar+storage) while mitigating the cost shifts to these communities from the current compensation model that favors higher-income, solar-only customers. This team is seeking opportunities to better align incentives and grow participation by these customers in DER programs so that California can continue to lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while growing a sustainable economy for all communities.