A Case Study of Community Solar’s Impact on the Energy Affordability of Minnesota’s Low to Moderate Income households
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Community solar gardens have been adopted by many states in the United States of America. They are an innovative way for utility ratepayers to have a direct role in the energy transition and support deployment of solar power onto the grid. However, the renewable energy industry has been criticized for the lack of low-to-moderate income household participation. To examine this further, I analyzed the participation rate of low-to-moderate income households in a sample set of Minnesota community solar subscriber data. This was achieved by translating the threshold for low-to-moderate income households to a housing price value. Furthermore, a model was created to assess the financial impact of various community solar tariffs on all the stakeholders involved. Analysis of data from 306 credit scores and 185 addresses of community solar garden subscribers showed that even with a credit score minimum requirement, almost 31% of subscribers were low-to-moderate income households. The results of the model showed that non-subscribing ratepayers pay at least 5% more in annual utility bills than subscribers, regardless of their income level. I also found that utilities and developers have competing interests when setting community solar tariffs, even after the Value of Solar was implemented. Overall, these findings support the low-to-moderate income ratepayer advocates and arguments for community solar reform.
Jung, Annie (2020). A Case Study of Community Solar’s Impact on the Energy Affordability of Minnesota’s Low to Moderate Income households. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20534.
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