Powering the Solar LMI Market with On-Bill Financing
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
6:00 PM – 6:30 PM EDT
Low income markets represent an untapped growth opportunity for solar development for both homeowners and businesses. But the upfront costs to own a solar panel put these out of reach for many low-income disadvantaged communities and rebate programs have their limits. On-bill financing programs -- where the repayment of solar installations in made on the utility bill -- provide an opportunity for these communities to finance solar energy. Because the approach involves no money down (and can be designed to be cash-flow positive), it can work for low-income families that are unable to take advantage of rebates or other incentives. When designed appropriately, on-bill financing programs can provide financing to everyone regardless of income, or credit. These programs require no credit checks -- as program eligibility is based on utility bill payment history -- and tie the on-bill obligation to the utility meter, not the person. This allows for the charge to transfer to the next owner or renter, and for the repayment to be more affordable. Utilities in states like Hawaii, Washington, or Arkansas are providing their customers with financing options for clean energy investments focused on low-income markets and renters. Solar energy investments by utilities to households and businesses, using on-bill financing, increase access to solar in underserved markets, and help decarbonize the grid. This presentation will provide an overview and sources of capital for these programs, as well as up-to-date program impact data and the utility’s perspective.