Rhode Island Looks to Provide Solar Energy to Lower-Income Homes Through Inflation Reduction Act Funding
Rhode Island is poised to become the first state to use funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to help install solar projects for low-to-moderate income single-family homes. The state is searching for a firm to partner with for these projects.
In December, Rhode Island submitted a request for proposal, called the Affordable Solar Access Pathways RFP, for firms that could provide solar leases and or purchase power agreements to low-to-moderate income households, or households that have an income that is 80% or less than the Area Median Income in Rhode Island. The households will also be located in environmental justice focus areas, which are defined by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
The initiative could be the first in the country under the new Inflation Reduction Act, which includes grant funds for environmental justice programs and offers bonus credits for solar project developments, particularly within low-income communities.
Rhode Island has 576 MW of installed solar, representing nearly 12,000 homes and generating enough solar power for over 100,000 homes. The state also has 61,033 low-to-middle income single-family households with a solar capacity of 351 MW and energy potential of 413,199 MWh, according to the proposal. The state ranks 31st in the U.S. for solar. Boosting solar development in environmental justice focus areas can help provide lower cost clean energy to these households while moving the state toward its goal of 100% renewables by 2033.
The winning firm must supply solar leases and purchase power agreement products that will be no-money down for the consumer and are cash flow positive, and the eligible households must receive a substantial part of the financial benefits that the firm will receive.
The state will give preference to bidding firms that also plan to provide additional products outside of solar panels to consumers, like EV chargers or battery storage, that can add further utility savings for the consumers.
The chosen solar firm will partner with the Office of Energy Resources and the Commerce Corp.’s Renewable Energy Fund and become an ongoing, trusted state partner, as reported by Utility Dive.
Bidding firms have until February 24, 2023 by 2 p.m. EST to submit proposals.
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