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The Energy Department is awarding more than $14 million in funding for 15 new projects to help communities develop multi-year solar deployment plans to install solar electricity in homes, businesses, and communities.

The 15 Solar Market Pathways projects announced by the White House yesterday pursue various approaches to developing actionable solar deployment plans and strategies to promote deployment at residential, community, and commercial scales-from expanding shared or community solar programs and local financing mechanisms to integrating solar energy generation into communities’ emergency response plans. As more communities look to solar energy as a source of clean, renewable electricity, the funding announced today will help lower the cost of going solar and enable businesses to develop solutions for overcoming technical, regulatory, and financial challenges, further unleashing cost-competitive solar energy.

“As the cost of solar energy technologies continues to drop, more Americans are choosing solar energy as their affordable, clean and preferred electricity source,” said Minh Le, director, SunShot Initiative. “In support of the SunShot goal, these projects bring together a diverse range of players from the public and private sectors, including utilities and universities, to develop new strategies to overcome barriers to solar power deployment, create long-term plans that create business certainty and support local economic development efforts, and cut costs and drive access to solar electricity for more homes and businesses.”

Aimed at cutting the non-hardware “soft costs” of solar – such as permitting, financing, and connecting to the electric grid – the case studies and lessons learned from these projects will ultimately provide similar jurisdictions with examples that can be replicated-an important step towards making solar deployment faster, easier, and cheaper across the country. The awardees include not-for-profits, utilities, industry associations, universities, and state and local jurisdictions in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

The California projects include:      

* Center for Sustainable Energy, San Diego:
The Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is expanding the awareness, effectiveness and use of virtual net metering in California and beyond. Virtual net metering is a system that enables a multi-meter property owner to allocate a solar system’s energy credits to other tenants. CSE aims to expand the application of virtual net metering to multifamily and multi-metered homes and facilities.

* Extensible Energy, LLC, Lafayette:
The Extensible Energy, LLC is working to on the market-based development of a new business model for community solar. The project increases the scale, reach, and value of utility-based community solar programs by using strategic solar technologies and design, by systematically prioritizing local sites and integrating companion measures, such as demand-response and thermal or battery storage. The core business model will be flexible enough to work in different market and regulatory situations, and offer both residential and commercial customers a compelling new solar option.

* City and County of San Francisco -Department of the Environment, San Francisco:
San Francisco’s “Solar+Storage for Resiliency” project is expanding the solar market by serving as a national model for integrating solar and energy storage into existing disaster preparedness plans. The project team is working closely with stakeholders to overcome regulatory, financial, and technical barriers and create a roadmap for deploying solar with storage for resilience both locally and nationally.

These projects are part of a $59 million investment in solar energy by the Energy Department. Altogether, the U.S. has installed more than 17 gigawatts of solar power-enough to power 3.5 million average American homes-and deployment is expected to accelerate as costs continue to fall and more residential, commercial, and utility-scale projects come online. Broadly, these investments build on the SunShot Initiative’s support of state-of-the art products, solutions and technology advancements that will drive down the costs of solar energy and help America lead in the global clean energy race.

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