Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Power

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance — Helping Low-Income Families Switch To Solar

Even low-income families now have a path to embracing solar energy — well, at least in some parts of the country anyway — thanks to work being done by the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance.

The rather grizzled organization — started 15 years ago — has been working to create a system whereby families on the federal government’s energy assistance program can receive their electricity via solar technologies, rather than dirty fossil fuels.


The founder and director of the organization (RREAL), Jason Edens, recently spoke to Climate Progress about the project. The project has been dubbed “Community Solar for Community Action.” Edens noted that, as far as he knew, it was the first such system by which low-income families could gain access to free solar energy as part of an assistance program.

As it stands currently, those that get energy assistance via the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program have no ability to choose where their energy comes from. The utility companies simply get money for the energy bills that those being assisted by the program can’t pay.

“Utilities are among the single biggest beneficiaries of energy assistance,” Edens noted. “Frankly, energy assistance is yet another fossil fuel subsidy.”

This doesn’t have to be the case, though, according to Edens. Via the new program, the low-income families receiving assistance will instead be provided with the option of getting their energy from a local community solar garden.


Climate Progress provides some more information:

RREAL is planning on building a solar garden that will be owned by a community action organization — the specific one, Edens said, is yet to be decided on. That community action group will allocate shares of the garden’s power to families eligible for federal energy assistance. Then, instead of the federal energy assistance dollars going directly to utilities, those families will see the credits they get from the solar garden show up on their electricity bill.

Edens is still hammering out the details of the project — RREAL is planning on partnering with a yet-to-be finalized Minnesota utility on the project, and Edens is hoping to also gain the support of the federal energy assistance program. He’s not sure yet exactly how many families could benefit from the project — no fewer than 40, he thinks, but it will depend on the size of the community solar garden. On the funding side, RREAL got a grant from the McKnight Foundation in December to help jumpstart the project’s creation.

There’s still a fair amount of work to be done, but, according to Edens, this model is going to eventually be used beyond Minnesota, and it’ll “transform the way that our nation delivers energy assistance,” he added.

A bold plan. A nice one, though. And, for that matter, one that seems quite achievable.

Those interested can find out more here.

Image Credit: Rural Renewable Energy Alliance

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


You May Also Like

Clean Power

In a brilliant case of epic timing, MISO announced a new transmission line plan for more renewable energy in the US midsection earlier this...

Clean Power

Research could improve efficiency for storing renewable energy, making carbon-free fuels, and manufacturing sustainable materials Research News, College of Science & Engineering, University of...

Clean Power

Solar panels are sprouting up in farms and rural communities all over the countryside, winning hearts and minds, if not votes.

Climate Change

Deep waters in temperate climate lakes have already lost almost 20 percent of their oxygen supply. Originally published on Nexus Media. By Kaitlin Sullivan On a...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.