San José Clean Energy’s community solar program saving some low-income customers $100 per month

San José Clean Energy (SJCE) has released details of the success of its first community solar program. The program offers more than 800 customers 100% solar energy at a 20% discount, which can be combined with other monthly discounts for up to 55% savings. The average Solar Access customer is saving $32 per bill and some save over $100 each month.

The new program enables customers who rent their home, cannot afford to install solar or whose home is not suitable for solar to benefit from utility scale clean energy at a discount. SJCE sources the solar energy for customers and there is no solar panel installation or equipment required. Eligible customers can apply to be added to the program’s waitlist and as spots become available; customers will be enrolled on a first come, first served basis. Applications are accepted onlineby mail or by phone at 833-432-2454.

“I want to thank San José Clean Energy for their leadership in implementing a program like this for our residents,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Too many of our communities are disproportionately burdened by climate change and higher utility bills. Solar Access addresses this by providing clean electricity at a discount.”

SJCE partnered with local community-based organizations to ensure all eligible customers had an opportunity to hear about the program and apply, including those without internet or who speak other languages. Partners included the International Children’s Assistance Network, Mujeres Empresarias Tomando Accion and the Alviso Community Fund.

The Solar Access outreach campaign is a finalist for a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion award from the California Association of Public Information Officials. Over 80% of applications were submitted by phone or direct mail and over 40% of applicants speak Vietnamese or Spanish.

“Programs like Solar Access are one of the many benefits of Community Choice Aggregation,” said Lori Mitchell, Director of the Community Energy Department, which operates SJCE. “We are committed to working with the community to keep the needs of our customers at the forefront as we transition to a clean energy future.”

SJCE recently partnered with Renewable America to build a new solar facility that will provide energy for Solar Access customers. The West Tambo Clean Power project will be built in Merced County and is expected to come online in April 2023. In the interim, energy for Solar Access customers is coming from an existing solar project in Corcoran, California.

Solar Access is available to residential customers who are enrolled in either the California Alternate Rates for Energy program (CARE) or Family Electric Rates Assistance program (FERA) and live in a disadvantaged community, defined by the state as neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted by environmental and socioeconomic burdens such as air pollution, poverty, or high incidence of asthma.

Solar Access is SJCE’s iteration of the state’s Disadvantaged Community-Green Tariff program, which is governed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). SJCE was allocated 1,736 MW by the CPUC, which is enough energy to power 800-850 homes.

SJCE will launch additional CPUC programs later this summer that will provide significant discounts on energy-efficient appliances for eligible San José households as well as energy efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades for businesses

News item from the City of San Jose

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