Project Name: Product Innovation to Increase Low-to-Moderate-Income Customers’ Adoption of Community Solar PV
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Research Area: Soft Costs
Location: Cambridge, MA
SETO Award Amount: $1,235,634
Awardee Cost Share: $308,908
Principal Investigator: Stephanie Speirs

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

Equitable community solar programs and initiatives have the potential to make solar electricity economically competitive and accessible to low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. Understanding potential customer habits and designing cost-effective solutions for a variety of subscriber audiences creates opportunity for more successful and inclusive solar projects that are equally financially viable for the investor and best reflect the needs of the customer. This project is developing equitable community solar subscriber contracts and will campaign for their use as a low-risk, best practice approach. The goal is to enable the contracts to be adopted by developers and result in greater community buy in an increased number of LMI subscribers.


This team is conducting preliminary research on contract development, subscriber outreach, performance behavior, and project financing. The findings will shape the creation of multiple subscriber contracts, with each version socialized amongst different stakeholder communities and industry experts to garner feedback on the options with the greatest impact on subscriber enrollment and project implementation. This team will produce webinars, distribute findings in a white paper, and present at conferences and developer events to strengthen information dissemination and improve pathways for innovative contract creation. Project results will be incorporated into a best practice contract and pitched to developers and commercial entities for use alongside memorandums of understanding during contract initiation.


This work introduces a study design that aims to address risk associated with LMI community solar projects and bridge gaps for low LMI subscriber enrollment. Understanding the LMI customer is necessary to design supportive solutions that help overcome obstacles to solar access. The contract model developed by this project presents considerations for community solar programs and solar electricity offerings in order to enable solar energy to reach households and customers of all income levels.