Biden-Harris Admin Launches Clean Energy Connector to Bring Nearly $15 Million in Annual Energy Savings to Up to 40,000 Low-Income Households

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Families in New Mexico, Illinois, and Washington D.C. will now Have Access to Community Solar Through HHS’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Biden-Harris Administration, through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), launched the pilot of the Clean Energy Connector, a tool that connects families to solar energy through HHS’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The first-of-its-kind software can now be used by local LIHEAP program administrators in Illinois, Washington, D.C., and New Mexico to connect community solar subscriptions to as many as 40,000 households with low incomes. Connecting LIHEAP-eligible households with community solar subscriptions will lower energy bills for families, increase access to clean energy among underserved communities, and increase equitable solar energy deployment, in support of President Biden’s ambitious clean energy and Justice40 goals.

“Renewable energy is by far the cheapest form of power and now, thanks to innovative solutions developed under the Biden-Harris Administration, more households across America can access the health and savings benefits that solar power provides,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE’s partnership with HHS will increase the deployment of community solar, helping thousands of families lower their energy bills and in turn reduce their energy burden, ensuring Americans across the nation are included as we transition to a clean energy economy.

“LIHEAP keeps families and individuals safe and healthy by providing heating assistance in the winter and cooling assistance in the summer,” said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. “Connecting LIHEAP-eligible households with the benefits and bill-savings of community solar will also have a lasting impact and provide increased economic security for families.”

After announcing the development of the software in 2022, this pilot will enable as many as 40,000 LIHEAP-eligible households in the two pilot states, plus Washington, D.C., to have access to available community solar projects. Successfully enrolled participants could see meaningful electricity bill savings, in alignment with the National Community Solar Partnership goal of 20% household savings, equal to $370 per household annually.

Solar energy is now cheaper than utility bill rates in many states. Community solar, which allows multiple customers to benefit from a shared solar energy system, provides a way for individuals who cannot access rooftop solar panels to save money on utility bills and access other benefits.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said, “We can’t claim to be serious about a clean energy future until it’s an option for everyone, not just those with the extra resources available to invest in technologies like solar. This program will expand solar to families who will see the most benefit from lower energy bills and place an equitable focus on clean energy distribution, an essential part of a sustainable future that I’m grateful the Biden-Harris Administration is prioritizing.”

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “Through our participation in the Clean Energy Connector, New Mexico is reducing the burden of renewable energy costs for families around the state. New Mexico is proud to be one of the first states to pilot the Connector, and I urge other states to join us in implementing this program that is making solar available to more Americans.”

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “Expanding who can access solar energy at home isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for the economy and the households that will benefit the most from lower energy costs. “Programs like the Clean Energy Connector make renewable energy more equitable and accessible and are helping build a more sustainable future for all Americans. We have seen the benefits locally of making solar power more accessible, and now we are grateful for the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued investments in our clean energy infrastructure.”

Approximately 5.7 million households in the United States receive LIHEAP assistance with heating costs. LIHEAP can assist eligible households with their heating and cooling costs, weatherization, and energy-related home repairs. Transitioning to solar energy can help households across the country save money on their electricity bills, but many American families face barriers to accessing these benefits, including the subscription fees.

Developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with support from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association and the National Association of State Energy Officials, the Clean Energy Connector will enable state community solar program administrators to thoroughly vet the providers, who must adhere to the state consumer protection and savings requirements to participate in the platform. Local LIHEAP and community action agencies, and county social support offices in Illinois, Washington D.C., and New Mexico assisted in the development and testing of the tool, with Colorado, New Jersey, and New York participating as advisor states. Additional states are encouraged to join DOE’s webinar on April 10 to find out how to get involved.

DOE also convened an advisory group, with compensation, who provided strategic support to Connector development through 2023, including the American Public Power Association, Clean Energy States Alliance, Edison Electric Institute, National Community Action Partnership, National Consumer Law Center, National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition, National Energy Assistance Directors Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and Solar United Neighbors.

According to a report recently released by NREL, if all technically viable community solar is deployed, it could serve more than 53 million households and over 300,000 businesses in the U.S. that cannot access rooftop solar, representing nearly 1 terawatt of potential community solar capacity.

Read more about the Solar Energy Technologies Office, and National Community Solar Partnership in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Learn more about HHS’s Community Solar and LIHEAP consideration.

Households looking for LIHEAP assistance should visit energyhelp.us or call 1-866-674-6327.


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