In May, volunteers installed one of the first solar PV systems under the new SASH solar incentive program for a Pleasanton, Calif., homeowner. This system will help the family save over $750 on their annual electric bills.
Credit: GRID Alternatives

In May, volunteers installed one of the first solar PV systems under the new SASH solar incentive program for a Pleasanton, Calif., homeowner. This system will help the family save over $750 on their annual electric bills.

A new California program is accepting applications from low-income homeowners interested in harnessing the power of the sun. The goal of the Single-Family Affordable Homes program (SASH) is to provide qualifying homeowners with access to photovoltaic solar installations to decrease electricity usage and utility bills without increasing monthly household expenses.

"The SASH program is a groundbreaking initiative that will bring solar energy to thousands of low-income single-family homeowners throughout California, and hopefully will serve as a model for other states," says Molly Tirpak Sterkel, manager of the California Public Utilities Commission's solar program.

Applicants must own and occupy their residence, have a household income of 80% or less of the area's median income, and live in a California Public Utilities Code 2852-compliant affordable home. Small 1- to 3-killowattsolar photovoltaic systems will be available for qualifying homeowners in the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) electric utility service territories.

The program will be managed by Oakland-based GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that provides solar equipment, training, and resources to low-income families. To date, GRID Alternatives has trained more than 2,000 volunteers to install more than 230 solar PV systems for low-income families throughout the state. These systems are reducing each family's electric bills by approximately 75%, which translates to a total of $3.8 million in energy cost savings over the systems' projected life spans, the organization says.

"Through the SASH Program, we'll be able to extend our services to a much wider audience of qualified low-income homeowners in California," said Tim Sears, GRID Alternatives program director. "We're thrilled about that because we believe that making energy choices that are good for the environment can go hand-in-hand with improving the lives of those living in low-income communities."

In one of the first SASH installations, GRID Alternatives joined with a number of community organizations to install a solar electric system for a low-income homeowner living in a Habitat for Humanity home in southeast San Diego.
Credit: GRID Alternatives

In one of the first SASH installations, GRID Alternatives joined with a number of community organizations to install a solar electric system for a low-income homeowner living in a Habitat for Humanity home in southeast San Diego.

In addition to reducing electricity bills, the SASH program will also benefit the communities it serves by leveraging local green job training initiatives to assist with installing the solar systems. GRID Alternatives partners with workforce development programs to assist with the installation of the solar systems, in order to help local workers access careers in solar installation. Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor, Online for EcoHome.