Policy Leadership

Overhead shot of installed solar panels
GRID Alternatives is a leading voice in renewable energy access, driving policies at the state and local level that support solar access for underserved communities

GRID’s approach to policy is to ensure that equity is a driving principle in the transition to a clean energy economy. Our policy leadership efforts have brought the tangible benefits of clean energy, including electric bill savings, resilience, access to jobs and reduced pollution, to underserved communities nationwide. Over the past several years, GRID has led or influenced more than 30 legislative bills, regulatory proceedings, research efforts, and program initiatives across the country that expand the benefits of clean energy to communities on the frontlines of climate change.

GRID’s Policy Impact:

  • AB 217 (CA): Sponsored a bill that successfully passed and refunded CA’s low-income solar programs (SASH/MASH) with  $108M in new funding
  • R.14-07-002 (CA): Guided the California Public Utilities Commission to integrate robust local hiring and workforce development elements into the largest affordable multifamily solar bill to date
  • R.12-11-005 (CA): Helped shape an ‘equity budget’ in an energy storage incentive program, increasing access to the benefits of energy storage to low-income customers
  • 16A-0139E (CO): Advocated to increase low-income community solar access in CO almost 20-fold (from 1 MW to 20 MW by 2019)
  • B21-0650 (DC): Helped pass and establish a Solar for All program within the District Department of Energy and the Environment to assist low-income households, seniors, nonprofits, and small local businesses increase their access to solar benefits
  • SB 2814 (IL): Advanced a Solar for All Program with incentives for low-income single-family, multifamily, community solar projects, and solar job training programs
  • HR 2447 (115th Congress):  Would require the Department of Energy to establish a loan and grant program for photovoltaic solar installations in low-income and underserved areas

GRID’s Policy Principles:

1. Equity: GRID’s policy efforts are driven by equity and inclusion, to ensure that tangible benefits of clean energy are truly accessible to all, especially underserved communities.

2. Economic Justice: Low-income households pay a higher portion of their income on energy costs and are most vulnerable to instability. Solar can stabilize and reduce energy costs for the long-term.. Under many taxpayer and ratepayer-funded policies, low-income households end up paying for innovative clean energy programs that they cannot access. Low-income customers should be prioritized in accessing the financial benefits of these programs, as well as job opportunities in the growing clean energy workforce.

3. Environmental Justice: Low-income communities and communities of color experience greater exposure to pollution and toxins than other communities and are more likely to suffer health impacts associated with environmental pollution. GRID advocates for policies that reduce and replace sources of harmful emissions with clean energy solutions located in or in proximity to frontline communities.
4. Consumer Protection - Successful clean energy policies should not create incentives for predatory lending or exploitation of communities for financial gain, but rather seek to maximize benefits, most importantly bill savings, for participating households. GRID advocates for robust consumer protection measures, disclosures, and accountability measures that protect vulnerable customers.
5. Community-Driven Solutions - Communities that are most impacted by the problem are closest to the solution. GRID works in partnership with local communities to advance their clean energy and economic development goals.  
6. Comprehensive Solutions - Successful clean energy policies must encourage long-term market development and be flexible in order to best serve the unique low-income market segment over time. These policies should also maximize co-benefits by aligning with programs and policies including energy efficiency, energy services, workforce development and healthy home programs.

Visit GRID’s Low-Income Solar Policy Guide for information on successful low-income solar policies and programs around the country.

Low-Income Solar Policy Guide

Solar provides a tremendous opportunity to address challenges faced by lower-income communities: high cost of housing, unemployment, and pollution.The Guide has data, models and resources to help policymakers, utilities and community leaders craft successful low-income solar policies and programs.