Establishing the Climate Access Fund
CGC partnered with a local leader to design, incubate, and raise capital for a new green bank focused on delivering solar access and cost savings to low- and moderate-income (LMI) households.
Community solar represents a unique opportunity to extend the benefits of solar to LMI households. However, without adequate financing structures and incentives, there’s a risk these projects never reach the customers they’re intended to serve. After seeing limited LMI uptake in the Maryland community solar market, CGC partnered with a local community leader to secure a grant to explore new financing solutions. Through interviews and ideation sessions with a wide range of community solar market participants across the country—including developers, financiers, LMI advocates, policymakers, and others—CGC and its partner identified the current gaps in information and financing that prevent capital from flowing to LMI projects. We developed a new product structure and an associated financial model that addressed these gaps, and incorporated the Climate Access Fund (CAF) to deliver this product. Finally, CGC worked with CAF to present the analysis of market gaps and the product financial model to potential capital providers. The response from capital providers was strong, with an initial tranche of investment coming from a mix of program-related investments from local philanthropy as well as a $1 million guarantee from the Maryland Energy Administration.
CAF is now fully operational as a 501(c)3 non-profit. CGC remains involved as a board member of CAF.