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Households could see electricity bill savings from the program in the 10% to 50% range, according the Biden administration.
As high temperatures blast much of the United States, new initiatives from the Biden administration could help low-income families stay cool with solar power.
On Wednesday, the White House announced a pilot program to help eligible households in five states and Washington, D.C., connect with what are known as community solar projects. The initial goal is to power 5 million homes and provide energy bill savings that could range from 10% to 50% for those participating in the program.
The initiative, a partnership between the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services, also aims to create jobs in the solar industry.
The Community Solar Subscription Program initially will enable households enrolled in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to use community solar projects, according to the announcement. Run by HHS, LIHEAP helps families with energy-related expenses, including heating and cooling costs, bill payment assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs.
Households in Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington, D.C., will be the first to participate in the Community Solar Subscription Program. By connecting families to a shared system, community solar projects can serve as alternatives for households that cannot install solar panels on the roofs of their homes, officials said.
“Our LIHEAP-eligible customers will see savings of 30%—that’s a gamechanger for New Mexico families,” said New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in the announcement.
Other Solar Programs
The Community Solar Subscription Program is not the only federal initiative that aims to bolster solar energy in the United States.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is issuing new guidance that will help people living in HUD-assisted housing to participate in community power plans where available. It’s estimated that 4.5 million families could benefit from community solar under the new guidance, according to a Wednesday news release.
The Department of Energy is also launching an awards program–Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar–to recognize community solar projects that increase equitable access. Up to five finalists will receive a $10,000 prize. The program also will dole out up to 50 additional $1,000 awards to competitors that find effective ways to equitably deliver community solar benefits.
In its announcement, the Biden administration also said it is investing $10 million through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to create new jobs in the solar industry with a focus on underserved communities.
Molly Bolan is an assistant editor for Route Fifty.