The Office of the People’s Council (OPC) commissioned a study on the value of solar for low-income residents in the District of Columbia. The Office of the People's Counsel (OPC) commissioned a study and report on residential customers and policies to equitably facilitate solar PV deployment, andan analysis on emerging distributed energy alternatives for low-income residential customers in the District of Columbia. The U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development’s definition of low-income is used as the basis for this study’s analysis.
This study examined how low-income residents in the District can equally participate in and benefit from the proliferation of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in a jurisdiction that provides a myriad of financial, economic, social and environmental programs to its citizens. This report outlined ways to increase the amount of PV generated solar power flowing into the grid, with the primary instrument being to improve “energy efficiency”— (i) that consumption of any renewable energy resource without energy efficiency is wasteful— similar to leaving the faucet running, letting water drip out; (ii) the optimization of energy usage, which increases the number of “electrons” flowing into the grid.
As in other jurisdictions, there are practical barriers to generation, accessibility, and utilization of solar PV and other distributive energy resources. This study (i) identifies many of those barriers, proposing mitigation measures to overcome those barriers and (ii) suggests which District agencies should be charged with the responsibility to mitigate those barriers to improve low-income residents’ abilities to generate, access, and utilize solar PV systems in the District.
Additionally, this report discussed in some detail the concept of “utility in the box”. “Utility in the box” provides a range of options to improve solar affordable utilization and reduce electricity bills when distributive energy resources are just not available. In this report, the concept of “utility in the box” was re-imagined to promote the bundling of appropriate energy generation enhancement and energy and environmental conservation technologies with Solar PV.