New business models are emerging to serve low income customers who have previously been unable to access distributed energy resource (DER) options such as rooftop solar.i Learning from models that have successfully served higher-income customers, these new “species”ii of DER business models are adapting and evolving to meet the needs of low-income customers. In this report, we profile four examples of new types of arrangements that are unlocking the potential for low-income customers to participate in and benefit from DERs:
• The Co-op Owner Model allows low-income customers to choose between pre-pay and pay-as-you-go subscriptions for community solar, and the opportunity to co-own projects over time.
• The Building Co-op Model leverages existing building co-op entities to provide low-income tenants pass-through access to loans, incentives, and other benefits.
• The Worker Co-op Model leverages local human resources to reduce overall project costs to low income participants. Members have an option to co own projects over time.
• The Tenant Load Flex Model enables low-income customers to participate in load flexibility programs in exchange for reduced utility bills.