The trend continues for expanding access for low-income households to go solar, as residential installer Sunrun extends its partnership with GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest non-profit solar installer.
The expanded agreement between Sunrun and GRID Alternatives will provide financing for installations in low-income communities across the country. Sunrun will own, operate, maintain and insure the solar panels; GRID Alternatives will install the solar systems and fund each customer’s prepaid 20-year solar PPA or lease.
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The latest analysis from GTM Research and PowerScout found that the majority of residential solar users in the country are from middle-income homes, and 61% of solar households (within the four states with the highest residential solar installed capacity) had an annual income of least US$75,000 – revealing a slant towards wealthier users.
However, as the market is maturing, the initial wealthy first-mover segment is tapped out, and companies and policymakers are turning to expanding access to the technology. Former US president Barack Obama launched a federal intiative for low-income solar towards the end of his final term, and New York and Massachusetts have also been prominent in targeting access for this segment.
“Serving all homeowners has been a foundational business practice for Sunrun and we are excited to accelerate these efforts in low-income markets with GRID Alternatives,” said Paul Winnowski, president and COO of Sunrun. “Customers will receive all the benefits of going solar with no upfront costs, while realizing monthly savings on their utility bills. We are committed to partnering with companies, such as GRID Alternatives, who share our same customer-centric philosophy, providing them the resources necessary to successfully meet their goals.”
The model agreed by the two companies allows Sunrun to leverage both the ITC and depreciation benefits on the projects, reducing costs for GRID Alternatives and helping the organisation serve more low-income households.
Sunrun’s BrightSave Prepaid PPA product was recently approved for use on installations funded by California’s Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH), a low-income solar incentive programme managed by GRID Alternatives.
“Maximizing the financial benefits of solar to our clients is our top priority,” said Tim Sears, COO and co-founder of GRID Alternatives. “This partnership helps us to do that in the most cost-effective way, allowing us to stretch our resources further to serve even more families in more regions.”