Baltimore Shines will help low-income residents of Baltimore access solar energy through either roof-top installations, or community solar projects. Baltimore Shines builds off of the Baltimore Energy Initiative and Baltimore Energy Challenge, which has been assisting low-income residents through low tier energy saving product installations, weatherization, and education since 2009. Since 2009, over 9800 units in the City of Baltimore, with incomes of less than 200% of Federal Poverty level, have been weatherized. In 2015, the City of Baltimore launched a small pilot to provide solar installations on ten low-income households in a neighborhood east of Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 2016, the City, in partnership with several non-profit organizations and local universities, launched a larger solar pilot targeting 33 homes that had previously been weatherized and had received in-home education services through the Baltimore Energy Initiative and Baltimore Energy Challenge. Both of these low-income solar pilot programs provided insights into the barriers preventing low-income solar access, and identified logistical components for creating a long-term sustainable financing model that provides low-income residents equitable access to solar energy.
In the spring of 2016, the City of Baltimore and the Maryland Clean Energy Center entered into an MOU that outlined goals and responsibilities for each team member to take in order to advance a low-income solar financing program for residents of the City of Baltimore, which included creating a program outline and model. The program outline was finalized in the fall of 2016, and we are now prepared to move into the next phase of development and implementation.
The program outline uses the City of Baltimore and its Baltimore Energy Challenge program to focus on education and outreach, targeting the 9800 households that have received weatherization since 2009. These households then, based on their needs, style of home, location, shading, and various other considerations would then be funneled to financing options for on-site solar installations, or to a number of low-income community solar projects. Maryland Clean Energy Center is responsible for fully developing the financing mechanism for installation of solar on 1000 homes, and for assisting in identifying $8,000,000 in tax credit investments, as well as an additional $2,000,000 for an escrow fund that would be used as a back-stop.
Having already prepared a robust program outline, identifying the mechanisms and ways to move forward, we are prepared to move this project forward with a goal of reaching 1000 solar installations on low-income homes, and to refer at least 1000 low-income residents to community solar projects as they go online in the State of Maryland over the next year.
Baltimore Shines will mobilize private capital and leverage the nascent Maryland Community Solar opportunity to increase low-income solar adoption in the City. It also represents an exciting opportunity to expand the solar industry in the region. Additionally, Baltimore Shines incorporates a job-training component that will expand workforce opportunities for underemployed and unemployed Baltimore residents.
Baltimore Shines would not only increase access to solar for low-income residents, but also increase job training and job placement for low-income residents as well. The program lowers bills, and increases wages for some of the City’s most vulnerable residents, which supports a growing, sustainable and resilient Baltimore.