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SASH Program Makes Solar Accessible

Energy savings for thousands of low-income families

Raising a child with cerebral palsy is never easy. With four other children – and high electricity bills – the Heltsley family of Yuba City desperately needed some relief.

“We use a lot of electricity, and even with utility discounts, it’s quite a bit of money,” said Addam Heltsley, a minister at a local church.  “We knew we wanted solar to help with our electric bills, but we couldn’t afford it.”

In 2015, the family got needed relief through CSI’s Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program. Their system, installed at no cost by program administrator GRID Alternatives, will save the family an estimated $22,000 in lifetime electricity costs, savings that instead can be used to care for their children.

When the SASH program began in 2009, it was the first of its kind in the nation, a solar rebate program specifically targeting low-income families. During its initial seven-year run, more than 5,200 homes received solar, totaling over 16 megawatts of clean, affordable solar energy for families in need. In addition, more than 13,000 individuals gained hands-on installation training through these projects, many of whom used their newly gained skills to pursue living-wage jobs in the rapidly growing solar industry.

The successes of the SASH program led to its renewal in 2013 and an extended ability to provide solar savings and job training to thousands more families and individuals across the state through 2021. The program’s lessons learned and best practices also have catalyzed programs to address solar access in other parts of the country, most notably the District of Columbia, Colorado and New York.

"California has led the way in ensuring that clean energy is truly accessible to everyone,” said GRID Co-founder and CEO Erica Mackie. “We look forward to building on the success of the SASH program and continuing to put more clean power on rooftops, more people into solar jobs and more savings into the pocketbooks of families that need it most.”

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October - November 2016
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