The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) launched the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) to brainstorm ways of driving more residential solar adoption in historically underserved communities. Seven projects around the country were selected to participate in the SEIN program.
In Austin, Texas, Pecan Street will execute the project with GAVA (Go Austin/Vamos Austin), a health equity community organizing nonprofit in Austin’s Eastern Crescent. The team will develop models for community-led engagement that remove technical and financing obstacles which keep rooftop solar systems out of reach for many families.
“Energy affects all of us, but not everyone has equal access to energy choices. Households and communities of color continue to be unfairly burdened by high energy costs and are disproportionately impacted by grid outages,” said Pecan Street Inc. CEO Suzanne Russo. “This project will not only help NREL and SEIN better understand the energy challenges in these communities, it will help uncover solutions that make clean energy options more accessible and affordable.”
This partnership will combine best practices from affordable housing, weatherization assistance, and financial literacy programs to adapt energy efficiency loan programs and build trust in disadvantaged communities victimized by predatory lending practices.
“Communities of color are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and disruptions to the energy grid,” said Austin City Council member Sabino “Pio” Renteria. “The Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) is an incredible community-led project that will help remove obstacles and facilitate the equitable transition to renewable energy in historically underserved neighborhoods. I am proud that Pecan Street and GAVA have been selected to lead this project in Austin.”
The Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) is a U.S. Department of Energy program that helps communities develop transformative ways of adopting solar energy. Teams work together and with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop their ideas in real-world contexts, yielding results that can unlock tomorrow’s solar markets.
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