Article by:
Austin Young
August 3, 2022
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Bringing Equitable Solar Energy Access and Savings to Low-Income Families

When we talk about the potential for solar power to change lives and address climate change, we often focus on the positive impact of clean energy on the environment or savings on utility bills. While California can claim the title of being the most energy-efficient state, it comes at a high cost. Low-income groups are already spending a larger portion of their income on utility bills. But, when you account for California’s ever-increasing electricity rates which are some of the highest in the country, a massive number of Californians are subject to energy poverty and carrying the burden.

The Energy Burden for Low-Income Families

There is another side to this story: access to solar power. Almost half of California’s population cannot do anything about their electricity costs because onsite clean energy is unattainable for them. This is due to the fact that nearly 70% of Californians rent or are in a low-income group. Low-income families are less likely to be homeowners, and residents of multifamily buildings don’t own their roofs and have limited options for clean energy. Furthermore, with clean energy policies restricting natural gas usage, these low-income families and multifamily residents are forced to rely more on electricity with no alternative to offset the cost. With rents at an all-time high and inflation growing at the fastest rate in over 40 years, the time is now for property owners to take action and help low-income groups catch a break.

The Solution to California’s Energy Poverty: Virtual Grid by Ivy

There hasn’t been a suitable solution to provide fair and equal access to clean energy, until now. Multifamily solar isn’t just about providing equal access to renewable energy. It has to include guaranteed savings for residents, as this makes a huge difference in the lives of those in low-income groups. Ivy Energy’s Virtual Grid makes an investment in solar viable for multifamily property owners and guarantees savings for residents. To better understand the situation and how we help solve this problem, these are the challenges facing the low-income groups in multifamily communities.

No Incentives or Flexibility for Multifamily Energy Efficiency

The Problem: Multifamily residents have restrictive leases and limitations from landlords about altering the space. Because they don’t own it, these residents aren’t going to invest their own money in energy-efficient upgrades that would give them cost savings, even if they’re aware of the benefits.

Ivy’s Solution: Residents receive a transparent monthly bill that illustrates their energy consumption patterns, solar availability, and grid electricity usage. This incentivizes residents to be more mindful of their energy efficiency, as it educates them on how their usage translates into real financial savings every month.

Shared Roof Space Problem

The Problem: Even if they could afford solar panels, low-income groups don’t own their roof space. So, unless the property owner invests in solar, all they can do is try to use less on peak energy and optimize their energy consumption. And even if their owner allowed them to put solar on, most low-income families could not afford to do so.

Ivy’s Solution: Property owners can see a clear revenue projection before investing in a shared solar asset for the roof of their multifamily property. Residents can use this valuable information to persuade their property owner to make the investment.

Split Incentive Complications

The Problem: 12% of single-family homes have solar, yet less than 1% of rentals have solar in California. The problem causing this gap in clean energy access: the split incentive. When it comes to multifamily properties, the property owner makes a big financial commitment but gets very few benefits. Understanding Virtual Net Metering (VNM) policies and managing the distribution of the solar benefits to residents creates a headache and an unclear return on investment.

Ivy’s Solution: Our proprietary software handles all the complex work of distributing solar energy savings to residents, while also allowing property owners to benefit and maximize their investment. Virtual Grid enables owners to generate a new net operating income (NOI) per unit without the headache of manually tracking VNM credits and energy usage.

Electricity Rates are Constantly Increasing

The Problem: Increasing electricity rates affect all Californians, but homeowners and high-income groups own their roofs and have the money to invest in solar. Low-income groups don’t have a say in where their electricity comes from, as they aren’t even able to shop around for an alternative utility company.

Ivy’s Solution: With our Virtual Grid solar billing software, your community’s electricity rates will be locked in for 25 years. Switching to solar power helps reduce current utility bills, but also protects residents and property owners from the ever-increasing electricity rates.

Access to Clean Energy & Savings for All

Everyone deserves to have fair access to clean energy, and that is why Ivy has made it their mission to make solar power easy and accessible for everyone in California. With our solar billing software, multifamily residents can feel confident they are receiving equal and unbiased energy savings based on their actual usage. It’s a win-win solution for residents and property owners who get to maximize their investment and do their part to reduce energy poverty in California. With Ivy's innovation, adopting a sustainable lifestyle is now within reach for everyone, low-income groups included. If you are a multifamily resident interested in clean energy, contact us to get more information to share with your property owner.