An Assessment of Evaluation Practices of Low- And Moderate-Income Solar Programs
As concerns about social equity and clean energy rise, state and local governments, utilities, and non-profit organizations are offering at least 41 active programs in 21 states to promote solar adoption as a way to reduce energy bills for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households while meeting other policy goals such as job creation and clean energy generation.
A new study from Berkeley Lab looks at how those programs are being evaluated. The report provides background on how they seek to address LMI household energy burdens and gives a brief discussion of the art and science of program evaluation, drawn from decades of experience in energy efficiency programs. It then turns to how LMI solar programs are currently being evaluated, highlighting trends among evaluation methods, metrics tracked, and best practices employed. A few programs are explored in more depth to illustrate notable practices that could be applied to other program evaluations.
These LMI solar programs are mostly young, operate on tight budgets, and vary considerably in their design and stated goals. Consequently, well-designed program evaluation is critical to better understand what works, what could be improved, and how to maximize program impacts under budget constraints.