U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Releases Memorandum on Community Solar and LIHEAP Considerations

Source: RL Martin

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Community Services (OCS) sent an Information Memorandum to grant recipients of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) on June 15, 2023, highlighting the benefits of community solar for low-income households and clarifying how LIHEAP funds can be used in relation to community solar. The memorandum 1) confirms that LIHEAP funds can be used for solar energy use through new and existing electric payment mechanisms, such as community solar subscription fees, and 2) provides LIHEAP grant recipients with recommendations to consider when utilizing LIHEAP funds for community solar subscriptions. In particular, HHS recommends grant recipients implement strong consumer protections to ensure a positive experience for low-income households participating in community solar. These include financial protections, marketing and communication guidelines, compliance and enforcement policies, and eligibility and enrollment protocols.

The new guidance from HHS serves as a valuable resource for state LIHEAP offices and State Energy Offices looking to expand access to community solar for low-income households. For states interested in learning more about community solar and state policies to improve access for low- and moderate-income households, NASEO recently published two reports: "Community Solar Consolidated Billing: Review of State Requirements, Policies, and Key Considerations" and "Inclusive Shared Solar: The State Policy Landscape and Select Community Solar Project Profiles," through the Inclusive Shared Solar Initiative, a multi-state partnership coordinated by NASEO and the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.

To learn more about NASEO’s programs in community solar, please contact Sandy Fazeli (sfazeli@naseo.org) or Grace Lowe (glowe@naseo.org).