GRID in the News

What makes someone “low-income”? What other things should I know?

Most solar programs designed to make panels more affordable for low-income homeowners use Area Median Income (AMI) to determine if a family is low-income. The AMI is interchangeable with the term “income limit area.”

The AMI is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and, in short, determines eligibility for affordable housing and other programs by comparing a family’s income to the median income where they live. It changes based on how many people live in the household.

Funding for new tribal facility and residential solar energy projects, including matching funds for Department of Energy grants, will help further tribal energy security and resilience, workforce training and build tribal energy sovereignty. TSAF received more than 40 applications totaling over $7 million in requests for tribal solar projects from dozens of applicants, demonstrating the need and excitement for renewable energy technology and workforce development in tribal communities.

GRID Alternatives is a national leader in making affordable renewable energy and job training accessible to low-income communities and communities of color. Their vision is to help foster a successful transition to clean, renewable energy that includes everyone.

“CSD is excited to have the opportunity to pilot new program models like community solar to help ensure that the investment the state is making to fight climate change continues to benefit all Californians,” CSD Director Linné Stout said. “The innovative projects that are being funded under the Community Solar Pilot Program will deliver financial savings to low-income households that otherwise can’t be served by existing solar programs, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Native American tribes have a long history of energy exploitation, especially with extractive industries like coal and petroleum, which has created fossil fuel-dependent economies. As the clean energy transition has accelerated, many tribes are turning to renewables to strengthen their communities and economies while cutting energy costs.

The Green New Deal calls for “meeting 100% of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.” Ideally, this would happen before 2035: the year when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we will have lost the chance to meaningfully slow global warming and its effects.

GRID Alternatives Inland Empire was awarded $2.05 million to install a 994 kilowatt (kW) ground-mounted solar array in partnership with the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Anza Electric Cooperative, Inc. The community solar system will be sited on Santa Rosa Tribal lands in Riverside County, an area designated as a low-income community, and will benefit approximately 38 homes on tribal land and 150-250 other low-income households served by Anza Electric.

While federal funding has helped tribal communities start accessing clean energy, a new approach combining public and philanthropic funds with nonprofit management and industry expertise could catalyze solar energy’s potential to create a brighter future for tribal communities facing energy insecurity and high unemployment.

The $5-million competition was launched in 2016 as a way to improve energy affordability and to expand solar access to low-and-moderate-income households.

DHA's entry, the CARE Project (Clean Affordable Renewable Energy), included a two-megawatt community solar garden which serves 500 homes throughout the City & County of Denver, with different affordable housing developers.

At a May 16 celebration of the new project, known as the Children of the Sun Solar Initiative (or COSSI), people from the many collaborating organizations that pulled it together cheered the start of work that is expected to save the tribe $2.8 million over the next 30 years. 

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