CESA releases first national study of solar for manufactured homes

Report Identifies Opportunities for Equitable Solar Development

Vermont Business Magazine Manufactured homes, formerly referred to as mobile homes, comprise over 6 percent of America’s housing stock and represent an even larger share of housing for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. A new, two-volume report from the nonprofit Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) argues that this market should receive targeted attention so that solar is developed equitably and more segments of society are able to realize the economic benefits from solar.

The report, Solar for Manufactured Homes: An Assessment of the Opportunities and Challenges in 14 States, provides a landscape assessment of the manufactured housing market and shows where these homes are located across the country. It explains the general obstacles to solar access by low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities, as well as additional challenges related specifically to installing solar PV with manufactured housing. It identifies the types of solar technologies that can work with manufactured housing and includes nine case studies that highlight ways in which solar can be deployed to benefit manufactured housing residents.

Dave Anderson, Executive Director of the National Manufactured Home Owners Association and a member of the report’s Advisory Committee, observes that “More than 8.5 million households live in manufactured homes. Solar has enormous potential to produce cost-savings for these low- and moderate-income families, but too often they are not even on the radar when new technologies like this are rolled out to the public."

The report is informed by the results of surveys of solar installation companies and manufactured home residents. The second volume of this two-volume study examines the manufactured homes and manufactured housing communities in 14 states in different regions of the country, each with different housing markets and solar policies. It identifies the most promising policies and programs to bring the benefits of solar power to manufactured housing residents in each of the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Sara Birmingham, Senior Director for State Affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association and a member of the report’s Advisory Committee, states that “As we think about ways to prioritize equity and expand solar accessibility to more Americans, solar on manufactured homes presents a promising new opportunity to reach lower income families. Equity and environmental justice are core values for the solar industry, and this report outlines another avenue to pursue this important work.”

The report provides eight general recommendations for the development of solar for manufactured homes:

  1. Assess the manufactured housing stock in the state or utility service territory
  2. Start with modest targeted efforts
  3. Recognize that special funding or incentives will be necessary
  4. Find the best venues for pursuing a “Solarize” strategy involving group purchasing and a community marketing campaign
  5. Target resident-owned and other nonprofit manufactured housing communities
  6. Promote certain types of large community-scale solar arrays
  7. Support efforts to incorporate solar into new manufactured homes
  8. Consider third-party ownership, on-bill financing, and other special financing

CESA Executive Director Warren Leon, the report’s lead author, points out that “The report does not shy away from the significant challenges to developing solar for the LMI manufactured homes market, but it offers key strategies to start making meaningful progress to help residents benefit from solar.”

A webinar about the report’s key findings will take place on Thursday, May 13th from 1-2 PM ET. This is a free event and open to the public. Register here.

Solar for Manufactured Homes: An Assessment of the Opportunities and Challenges in 14 States was produced by CESA as part of the Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project, which is supported by the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Over the coming year, CESA will sponsor a learning network for state policymakers, utilities, solar industry representatives, manufactured homes associations, and other interested stakeholders who want to be invited to virtual events to learn more about solar for manufactured homes. To receive invitations to learning network events, write to CESA Project Manager Wafa May Elamin at [email protected].

About the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA)

CESA is the leading US coalition of state energy agencies working together to advance the rapid expansion of clean energy technologies and bring the benefits of clean energy to all. Established in 2002, CESA is a national, member-supported nonprofit that works with its members to develop and implement effective clean energy policies and programs. CESA’s members—primarily state energy agencies representing 18 states and the District of Columbia—include many of the nation’s most innovative, successful, and influential implementers of clean energy policies. Learn more at www.cesa.org.

About the Solar Energy Technologies Office
The US Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and domestic benefit of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.

Source: Montpelier, VT: Clean Energy States Alliance 4.29.2021