A Program Design Combining Community Solar and Weatherization for Manufactured Homes in Michigan

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The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is interested in combining community solar with weatherization programs for manufactured homes. To collect program strategies, EGLE made a request for technical assistance from the US Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP).

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab developed this study in response. It briefly reviews issues relevant to the question, attempts to lay out a methodology for more in-depth analysis, and provides some recommendations for program design and implementation. While the research is specific to Michigan, the recommendations and methodologies could serve as an example for other states and regions.

The paper first provides an overview of manufactured home communities in Michigan, with a discussion of demographics and energy issues they face. It then discusses weatherization opportunities for manufactured homes, opportunities for community solar, and opportunities for combining the two.

The methodology proposed is intended to help EGLE:

  • Identify priority locations,
  • Set eligibility criteria for communities and households, and
  • Make the most of federal and other funding sources

The paper concludes with recommendations for a program that combines community solar with efficient electrification of manufactured homes to reduce the burden of the largest source of energy expenditure in Michigan, winter heating bills. Specifically, it envisions community solar subscriptions for occupants of manufactured homes that have been converted to high-efficiency cold weather heat pumps. The combination can be managed to alleviate seasonal variations in both solar and heating bills, such as through an annualized “budget billing” program.

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