One of the greatest barriers that US households face to going solar are FICO score requirements of 650+, when about 47% of consumers have subprime credit scores or are unscored
2020 Prosperity Now ScoreCard.
Additionally, lower income, Black and Hispanic individuals are significantly more likely to be credit invisible or credit unscored in the US than white and middle/upper income individuals (Washington, DC: CFPB Office of Research, 2015).
Energy Allies created the EnergyScore as an alternative qualification metric to expand access to clean energy to income-eligible households.
The EnergyScore is a machine-learning algorithm that improves access to clean energy products. By predicting the probability of utility payment delinquency using several consumer datasets, Solstice Initiative can ensure that churn and default rates for clean energy products are kept low while ensuring greater equity within the clean energy transition.
The EnergyScore was developed in partnership with The Department of Energy and data scientists at MIT and Stanford using more than 800,000 individuals’ data across 5,000 variables. Our research was published in the National Bureau of Economic Review. In our research to develop EnergyScore, we found that the EnergyScore is more accurate than FICO at predicting defaults and more inclusive of all incomes.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2019)
Project 2: Inclusive Community Solar Research
We have partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energies Technology Office in a research study to understand perceived barriers and opportunities in introducing solar products to communities that have historically been denied the benefits of solar energy.
Research shows that people who live in income-qualified communities and communities of color experience the brunt of both energy costs and climate change. We also see that solar adoption in climate-impacted communities is significantly lower than in wealthy and predominantly white communities. The adoption of community solar helps communities save money and protect the environment. Moreover, community solar has the potential to build wealth for community members. We are looking for ways to make community solar more accessible and affordable for climate-impacted communities.
Project 3: Policy Research
Access to low-income community solar is largely controlled by state-specific policies and programs. Review our Massachusetts state policy guides and case studies for current investigations into how community solar programs are constructed and ensure income-eligible participation.