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Baltimore Shines - Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Shines is a Baltimore City initiative that helps low-income residents access solar energy through either rooftop installations or community solar projects in Baltimore, Maryland. The program also expands workforce development opportunities in the solar installation industry. Baltimore Shines pilot projects were used to learn about barriers preventing solar installation in low-income communities and to inform the development of a sustainable financing model to increase access to solar energy. As the initial step to teaching energy affordability awareness, Baltimore Shines had community residents’ homes retrofitted by its close affiliate, Civic Works, which installed energy and water conservation equipment in homes. This program was not income restricted and is open to any Baltimore City homeowner or tenant residing in a house or apartment. Baltimore Shines also incorporated the development of workforce opportunities for underemployed and unemployed Baltimore residents through job-training and job placement. Additionally, Baltimore Shines leveraged a state funding program - the Maryland Community Solar Pilot program - that supported investments in renewable energy projects benefiting low- and moderate- income customers and encouraged private investment in the state’s solar industry with incentives for the investors. The program ultimately lowered bills, increased wages for some of the City’s low-income, under-employed or unemployed residents, and enhanced access to solar for many throughout the city. 

Related Organizations: City of Baltimore, Maryland

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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DC Public Service Commission MEDSIS Initiative, Customer Impact Working Group

2018

The District of Columbia Public Service Commission’s (DCPSC) establishment of the Customer Impact Working Group within the Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS) initiative is a replicable example of how utility commissions are working to invite equitable input in grid modernization efforts. DCPSC initiated the MEDSIS initiative as a means of making the energy delivery system more sustainable, reliable, efficient, cost effective, and interactive for District customers. DCPSC approved the establishment of six working groups to elicit input from a diverse range of stakeholders in order to address key issues related to modernizing the District’s energy delivery system. The Customer Impact Working Group is examining how grid modernization efforts may impact various customers, including exploring questions of customer equity, data protection and privacy, consumer protection, and low- and limited-income customer inclusion. This Working Group will produce recommendations aimed at ensuring that all customers benefit from grid modernization efforts.

Related Organizations: District of Columbia Public Service Commission

Resource Category: Planning

 

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California Public Utilities Commission Clean Energy Research Projects for Low-Income and Disadvantaged Communities

January 2018

The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) allocates its Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) to fund projects located in and benefiting low-income and disadvantaged communities, which is an example of utility commissions participating in equitable grid investment. EPIC funds come from rates charged to electricity customers of the state utilities and supports investments in clean energy technologies that benefit ratepayers of investor owned utilities. AB 523 directs the California Energy Commission (CEC) to expend at least 25 percent of its EPIC funds for Technology Demonstration and Deployment funding (TD&D) at sites located in, and benefiting, “disadvantaged communities,” and adds an additional requirement that the CEC expend at least 10 percent of its EPIC funds for TD&D at sites located in, and benefiting, low-income communities located in the state. The CPUC approved the allocation of $60 million of its EPIC funding to projects located in and benefiting low-income and disadvantaged communities that are also specifically prioritized for the investment of proceeds from CA’s cap-and-trade program. These investments are aimed at improving public health, quality of life, and economic opportunity in disadvantaged communities, which are defined by AB 523 as those most burdened by pollution from multiple sources and most vulnerable to its effects, considering socioeconomic characteristics and underlying health status.

Related Organizations: California Public Utilities Commission

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Chester, Pennsylvania Green Stormwater Infrastructure Plan and Community-Based Public-Private Partnership

June 2017

The City of Chester, Pennsylvania introduced the Chester City Green Stormwater Infrastructure Plan in 2017 as a means of addressing consistent stormwater pollution and overflow into the Delaware River, Chester Creek, and Ridley Creek watersheds. Chester’s combined sewer overflow (CSO) system often is overwhelmed during high rain and runoff events, which leads to increased flooding and water pollution and degradation of the river basin. The plan details Chester’s specific infrastructure needs, as well as the environmental and social benefits of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). It also analyzes common GSI techniques including rain gardens, green roofs, stormwater planters, and porous pavements, and includes their typical cost. The plan then lists 20 potential sites within the City for GSI projects, guidance for first steps, suggestions for effective community engagement, and potential sources of both public and private funding. To fund the GSI projects, the City formed a community-based public-private partnership (CBP3), which is a different approach to financing stormwater management that expands on the traditional public-private partnership model by incorporating considerations of a community’s economic development needs. Coupled with its focus on green infrastructure as a primary means of stormwater management, this structure promotes not only improvements in water quality but in the community’s overall quality of life. The plan will also address equity through hiring local contractors for the infrastructure projects, training local workers to maintain projects, and creating new maintenance jobs for community members.

Related Organizations: Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, City of Chester, Pennsylvania

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Solar Works DC

May 18, 2017

In 2017, the District of Columbia’s Departments of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and Employment Services (DOES) partnered with GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic to start Solar Works DC, to implement a low-income solar installation program with a job training component. The purpose of the Program is to focus on training disadvantaged members of the D. C. community in solar installation, and provide low-income families with solar energy systems. Over a three-year period, more than 200 individuals have been trained in solar-related related industries.

Related Organizations: District Department of Energy and the Environment (DDOE) - Washington DC

Resource Category: Education and Outreach

 

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Southeastern Montana Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

June 2017

In 2017, Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC) released the Southeastern Montana Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) after consultation with hundreds of residents throughout the area to address common issues, including repairing infrastructure, increasing broadband capacity to meet local needs, encouraging resilient energy development, and foster diverse, local businesses. Through the CEDS, SEMDC works to create a strong coalition of communities and businesses to facilitate the development of a resilient infrastructure, while “maintaining a traditional, rural, high quality lifestyle.” Among the many projects and initiatives contained within the CEDS, those that are most applicable to developing economic resilience emphasize Climate and Renewable Energy Development, combating inequality and unemployment, and establishing an Economic Resilience Strategy. To address this inequality and unemployment within the region, SEMDC proposes several programs for under-represented, vulnerable communities and residents. This involves the support of workforce development programs in communities that focus primarily on the disadvantaged, as well as scholarship programs that train these individuals on green energy technologies. 

Related Organizations: Southeastern Montana Development Corporation

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Resilience and Solar Assessment Tool - Washington D.C.

2017

In 2017, the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) launched the country’s first resilience tool to identify opportunities for protecting residents in multifamily affordable housing from heat waves, flooding, and other climate change impacts. The city already faces a tight housing market with significant shortages in affordable housing. Climate change is expected to only exacerbate this pressure by increasing the cost of maintaining comfortable homes in the summer and protecting households from flooding. In order to help advance the goals of the city’s climate adaptation plan, DOEE worked with nonprofit partners to develop the Resilience and Solar Assessment Tool. The tool consists of a series of questionnaires that building owners can use to identify the building’s resilience to potential climate change impacts, examining characteristics like accessibility, emergency management plans, and electrical, mechanical, and plumbing equipment. Based on the outcome of the assessment, the tool provides additional recommendations for implementing resilience strategies at varying cost and scale. 

Related Organizations: District Department of Energy and the Environment (DDOE) - Washington DC

Resource Category: Data and tools

 

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Partners for Places Funding Program

2012

The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the Urban Sustainability Director’s Network (USDN) co-founded the Partners for Places program (P4P). P4P is a matching grant program that supports initiatives with local government sustainability leaders and local funders to integrate climate preparedness, sustainability, and carbon reduction in U. S. and Canada communities.   The fund grants up to $1,000,000 annually; and grants range between $25,000 and $150,000. A 1:1 match is required from local place-based foundations.

Related Organizations: Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities

Resource Category: Funding

 

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California AB 693: Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) Program & the Multifamily Affordable Housing Solar Roofs Program (MASH)

2015

California’s SOMAH and MASH programs provide an example of how financial incentives can be used to support installation of solar energy photovoltaic (PV) systems on multifamily affordable housing properties. Assembly Bill 693 provides financial incentives for the installation of PV systems, prescribes criteria for participation in the incentive program, sets targets for installation of solar PV systems, identifies various required elements for the Program, and gives direction to the California Public Utilities Commission on the administration of the Program. The SOMAH program's goal is to encourage the installation of 300 megawatts (MW) of solar power to benefit affordable housing units by 2030. This program is funded through GHG allowance auction proceeds and is administered by nonprofits and electric utilities. Eligible building owners and tenants can receive solar credits through a virtual net energy metering system. The program provides direct economic benefits by allowing low-income renters to receive energy produced on the roof of their housing unit, which lowers monthly utility costs and helps “disadvantaged communities” reap the benefits of the growing California solar industry. 

 

Related Organizations: State of California

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Washington DC Green Zone Environmental Program

January 2016

The Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP) is a program run by the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment that provides young adults aged 14 to 24 with summer careers in clean energy. Every year, over 300 youth and young adults throughout the District -- with a focus on recruitment from vulnerable, under-represented communities -- enroll in a six-week training and educational Program. The DOEE and GZEP partner with local businesses to expose participants of the Program to both classroom and hands-on training in the areas of stormwater management, solar energy installments, green infrastructure construction, landscaping, and more.

Related Organizations: District Department of Energy and the Environment (DDOE) - Washington DC

Resource Category: Education and Outreach

 

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