Cleveland debuts low-income home solar install program

Cleveland’s first low- to moderate-income (LMI) solar program is underway and has high hopes for 2023. Solar installations are funded through a grant from the Lowenstein Foundation and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. The program launched with a $100,000 grant to do between 5-10 installs.

“We will end the year with five installs and two to be installed early next year,” Tristan Rader, Ohio Director of Solar United Neighbors (SUN). “Our hope now is to secure more funding in 2023 for up to 50 more installs while we continue to search for more sustainable solutions.”

Program participants will work with nonprofit organization Solar United Neighbors (SUN) to learn about solar energy and receive a proposal for solar on their home. This is an extension of the group’s work that has helped almost 600 Ohio families go solar.

Several of these systems also involve entirely new homes, built via Habitat for Humanity. SUN recently hosted ribbon cutting ceremony at one such home constructed home.

“Areas like where we stand today feel the impact of climate change first and deepest. In Cleveland, through these great partnerships, we have found ways to start to prioritize people and the planet together,” said Blaine Griffin, Cleveland City Council President.

The program will cover up to 80% of participating homeowners’ electricity usage and help the homeowners see savings on their monthly electric bill starting from day one.

“They are a mix of income qualified families,” Rader said of the participants in the program. “Some have been with Habitat for Humanity homes. We hope to do many more Habitat homes in the near future.”

The program is available to participants who earn less than 80% of Area Median Income. This is $62,880 for a family of four. SUN will work with the City, funders, and partners to identify qualified participants.
Program organizers expect to save participants a combined $300,000 over the 25 years warrantied life of the systems. These savings come in the form of lower energy bills. This means a return of $1.34 for every dollar invested in the program.

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