The White Marsh Community Solar Farm project was selected as a Meaningful Benefit Category Special Recognition winner for Low-to Moderate-Income Access for the 2022 Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar, an initiative of the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP).
The NCSP, a program of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), supports a coalition of stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every U.S. household and enable communities to realize meaningful benefits, such as greater household savings, low- to moderate-income (LMI) household access, increased resilience, community ownership, and equitable workforce development. NCSP is working toward a 2025 target to enable community solar to power the equivalent of 5 million households and generate a cumulative $1 billion in energy bill savings.
The Sunny Awards launched in 2022 to recognize community solar projects and programs that employ best practices to increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities. Meaningful benefits are key outcomes of community solar development identified by the NCSP. These community solar benefits bring positive impacts to the households, organizations, and the surrounding communities where the projects are developed and operate.
- Project Name: White Marsh Community Solar Farm
- Location: Kingsville, Maryland
- Project Size: 1.8 MW
- Project Subscribers: 331 residential households
- Year Energized: 2020
- Lead Organization: Nautilus Solar Energy LLC
- Partner Organizations: Neighborhood Sun, Baltimore Gas & Electric, Daft McCune Walker, Power 52 Energy Solutions, SolAmerica
- Business Model: For-profit developed and owned
- State or Utility Program Leveraged: Maryland Community Solar Pilot Program
- Bill savings: 25% energy bill discount for LMI; 10% for non-LMI subscribers
- LMI access: 51%
Meaningful Benefits Best Practices
The White Marsh Community Solar Farm leverages the Maryland Community Solar Pilot Program and grant funding from the Maryland Energy Administration to provide 25% bill savings to 144 low- to moderate-income (LMI) households. Nautilus Solar Energy LLC, the project’s owner and operator, found that a targeted policy and programmatic focus on serving LMI households is necessary to successfully expand the reach of community solar to underserved communities at scale. Nautilus prioritizes LMI household participation by eliminating barriers to qualify customers. It’s important to ensure that the process to qualify low-income customers does not exclude them from participating, as it could prevent serving those who need it most.
Utilizing easy qualifiers such as U.S. census tracks, self-attestation, and current low-income program participation helps facilitate the process. Furthermore, Nautilus focuses on program education to build trust in LMI communities. It partners with community partners, such as Neighborhood Sun, to engage with and help acquire low-to-moderate income subscribers. Nautilus’ engagement with subscribers includes hosting community-based events, providing educational materials on its website and in brochures, and by seeking publicity in local media to establish familiarity and trust.
For more information on the project, contact Carlene Pruitt at Carlene@nautilussolar.com.