Tuesday, November 14, 2023
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Equitably Transforming the Connecticut Solar Market
Session ID
B4 - Decarbonization and Renewable Energy Policies & Programs: Successes and Lessons Learned in Engaging Hard-to-Reach Communities
Eric Shrago

Today, Connecticut has an advanced residential solar market; however, evidence from the state’s transition from program support by the Connecticut Green Bank to a tariffed solar structure suggests that the state risks leaving communities with low-to-moderate incomes behind in this transition. The Green Bank launched the Residential Solar Investment Program (RSIP) in 2012 and administered the program’s declining incentive block structure until RSIP reached its 350 MW goal in 2022. In 2015 the Green Bank responded to low participation from households with low to moderate incomes (LMI) with a new incentive structure and new partnerships. Thereafter, LMI household participation outpaced higher income households. RSIP catalyzed residential solar adoption to achieve the highest market wide adoption rates and the highest rates of adoption in LMI census tracts in the Northeast. Upon RSIP’s expiration, Connecticut shifted to RRES, a utility-based tariffed solar framework. Early data shows the rate of residential solar installations in Connecticut continues to increase, but LMI household participation has decreased, despite RRES offering bonus payment rates for LMI households. State-level data from the later years of RSIP and post-RSIP suggest that the Green Bank effectively used RSIP to prepare the Connecticut residential solar market to thrive post-RSIP. However, data on PV adoption by LMI households shows that there is still a role for program support in a mature clean energy market. This session will describe how the Green Bank transformed the Connecticut solar market, using innovative incentive structure, stakeholder engagement, and strategic collaborations. It will then explore reasons why solar adoption decreased in LMI communities post-RSIP. The presentation will offer a nuanced perspective on market transformation, in which utilities and agencies progress from initial broad intervention strategies toward approaches that ensure equitable pathways for all communities to access mature markets.

Supporting Document 1