Google has announced two new programs to extend clean energy benefits to local communities and improve housing infrastructure. These initiatives are designed to lower barriers to an equitable clean energy transition, as lower utility bills and job opportunities from clean energy are often out of reach for many households. Over 30 million US households face a high energy burden, spending more of their income on energy bills compared to the average household. Low-income Black, Hispanic and Native American households are disproportionately impacted, and these households often don’t qualify for state and utility-led programs that would give them access to community or rooftop solar. Through a partnership with EDPR NA Distributed Generation, Google will create a 500-megawatt (MW) community-based solar portfolio, with at least 10% of the portfolio’s revenues redirected annually for up to 15 years as utility bill credits to more than 25,000 households facing a high energy burden. At least 35% of the projects will be built directly in low- and middle-income communities. To further cut back on energy costs, Google will also contribute Nest thermostats to select participating homes and encourage participation in demand response programs.
Utility bill credits can provide short-term relief, but to lock in clean energy savings and reduce the energy burden long-term, there needs to be meaningful investments in weatherization and housing infrastructure upgrades. Google is introducing Community Investment Funds in select geographies to pave the way for long-term energy efficiency, starting with a $12 million fund created through its EDP Renewables partnership. Local partner organizations will use the funds to help complete pre-weatherization projects for participating households and educate them on subsequent energy efficiency programs they’ll qualify for once the projects are done. Google has also partnered with Sol Systems to provide funding to three rural electric cooperatives and one regional organization in North and South Carolina to undertake critical home pre-weatherization and safety upgrades for low- and moderate-income households. Alongside this investment, the partnership will deliver 225 MW of new solar energy and 18 MW of battery storage resources, bringing clean energy to one of the most challenging grids to decarbonize.
As Google progresses towards its 2030 goal to operate entirely on 24/7 carbon-free energy, it will continue to build upon these programs and encourage others to join in reducing the energy burden in communities. These programs extend the benefits of Google’s investments to underserved communities, reducing the barrier to an equitable clean energy transition.