Community Solar for Community Action
Community Solar for Community Action
Community Solar for Community Action

Community Solar for Community Action



Using Social Impact Bonding and community trust ownership models to Demonstrate a New National Model of Low-income Energy Assistance.

Awarded:: Seed Funds, TA Voucher, Participant

Team Information

Team Lead
Jason Edens
Team Lead LinkedIn Profile
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Project Description

Project / Program Description

RREAL has forged a new nationally relevant, scalable model of energy assistance: Community Solar for Community Action (CS4CA). Rather than simply paying low-income families’ energy bills annually, RREAL is proving that shared solar is a fiscally responsible and environmentally appropriate alternative to conventional, fossil-fuel based energy assistance. Our program leverages the nationwide energy assistance program to rapidly scale low-income solar across all utilities and regulatory landscapes. Energy assistance serves 96% of counties in the United States and is serving LMI populations in partnership with utilities. By integrating solar energy into this vast and effective service delivery network, we can rapidly and broadly scale low-income solar and demonstrate a funding mechanism that is not dependent on an ephemeral tax credit. Our project will demonstrate this model by deploying more than 200 kW of 100% low-income shared solar integrated into the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tribal energy assistance program.

Application Video
Application Video
Project Updates

July 2018

Team RREAL's overall status is green. All CS4CA have secured permits/interconnection approvals. Some of the projects originally identified have been removed from the workplan. An updated workplan has been posted in the SIYCC website. Team RREAL continues to be creative in securing financing for the Vermont project. CS4CA has made several adjustments to its original project portfolio in an effort to pivot towards establishing a nationally replicable model for low income community solar and are making market introductions in KS and MO and other states for post SIYCC engagement. The total DC kilowatt estimated at onset of challenge was 355 and the total DC kilowatts permitted for interconnection is 343.175.

SEVCA CS4CA project Q5 updates: RFP process was completed. Vermont solar EPC selection was completed. CPG (permit) was issued. Structural engineering was completed. Funding is 65% complete.

Decent Energy was added to the CS4CA team in Q5 to assist RREAL in completing the VT project, expanding CS4CA into KS and MO, and work on creating an advisory board to assist CS4CA in working towards the goal of a national rollout.

RREAL met with Mary Rottman during this quarter to discuss our Pay for Success finance innovation. We learned much and gathered some valuable support for advancing community solar finance through performance based contracting and social impact investor networks. 

RREAL is gathering momentum and has a 2019 CS4CA White Earth Nation project planned and has received $500,000 of support from Minnesota state funding. We are working with the state of Minnesota to develop relationships for a state appropriation in a private/public investment in 2 MW of low-income community solar.

Thanks to the DoE and this Solar in Your Community Challenge our CS4CA model and PFS finance innovation are fulfilling the promise of a clean energy future that is economically, environmentally, and equitably just.

March 2018

RREAL is partnering in Vermont on the developing the second 100% owned low-income community solar array. This 150 kW will provide solar energy assistance through Vermont's Southeastern Vermont Community Action Agency for 173 (FY2016-2017) LIHEAP electric heat energy assistance recipients. 

During the TA Blitz RREAL, in partnership with the MREA, completed a case study on the Leech Lake Community Solar for Community Action pilot. Read it here

In a fun and creative partnership with Nemeth Energy, we made a video for spreading the RREAL CS4CA story, thanks to the TA Blitz Voucher opportunity. Watch it

We traveled to DC to participate in the SIYCC workshops. It was good to meet some of our SIYCC friends, share stories, get inspired, and celebrate SIYCC innovations with you. 

This month Community Solar for Community Action was honored with the 2018 Environmental Initiative Energy & Climate Award. Learn more We at RREAL are grateful to be in this challenge with such a talented group and for the amazing progress made during this first quarter of 2018. Sunny regards to all our SIYCC contemporaries.

December 2017

RREAL just finished an 14.4kW system at the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) in Duluth, Minnesota. This will provide more savings that can be put toward AICHO's important work providing housing services to Native communities in Duluth. The array will also be used for educational programs about solar for youth and the community.

July 2017

RREAL just had a ribbon cutting for the first 100% low-income shared solar array in Minnesota and on tribal lands. Check out an article about the installation here:

And another update about an award we received from the BDR Fund for the project:

kilowatt total: 118kW

Team Images
  • Prescott Installation Crew.jpg

    Prescott Installation Crew.jpg


  • Crew by CS4CA.jpg

    Crew by CS4CA.jpg


  • Polly and Ben Wrenching on CS4CA1.jpg

    Polly and Ben Wrenching on CS4CA1.jpg


  • Throwing the Switch with Matt Prescott Kid and Dog II.jpg

    Throwing the Switch with Matt Prescott Kid and Dog II.jpg


  • AICHOArray.jpg



  • Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 11.38.34 AM.png

    Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 11.38.34 AM.png