About The LIFT Toolkit

The LIFT Toolkit offers information and tools that help eliminate the complexities and barriers for Low- and Moderate-Income (LMI) access to community solar. Project developers, financiers, utilities or municipalities, researchers, and even those new to the community solar field can use the Toolkit to understand and learn from the landscape of LMI community solar in the U.S.

The Toolkit is based on original research findings from the LIFT survey of project financing and customer experience models, as well as an analysis of the LIFT Community Solar projects dataset. It includes project summaries for all 460+ projects, deep dives on innovative project case studies, project financing best practices as identified through case studies, and research analysis.

Three Functions 

  1. Explore the first and largest searchable database of LMI community solar projects in the U.S. through an interactive map, as well as a sortable and downloadable data table.

  2. Design community solar projects to optimally serve LMI communities based on findings from over 460 projects in the database. Enter information about an existing or proposed project to find case studies, project finance best practices, and other resources to help you optimize your program.

  3. Learn from original LIFT research and an aggregation of existing resources relevant to solar and community solar projects serving LMI communities.

About LIFT Solar

LIFT for Solar Access Everywhere research is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Solar Energy Technologies Office. 

Community solar promises to expand and accelerate access to renewables to people who rent, who cannot install solar on their roofs, or who cannot afford on-site solar installations. However, though community solar may offer considerable financial savings, LMI households may not be able to access community solar energy because of current program structures and financial barriers. The LIFT project team aims to increase the access of LMI households to solar energy by consolidating resources in one easy to use Toolkit.


Meet our team

Groundswell leads the LIFT Solar Everywhere project with the goal of developing optimal solar program designs for working families in each common regulatory and utility service environment.

Groundswell’s partners in this project are – Elevate, Southface, and Clean Energy Works. The LIFT team gathered information from LMI solar developers, investors, utilities, community organizations, and customers to organize qualitative and quantitative data on best practices for financing, developing, overcoming barriers, and modeling to deliver community solar access to more LMI residential households nationwide.


A full description of our data collection methodology, definitions and assumptions for each of our data points can be read here. There may be small discrepancies in specific project data. We encourage project owners and program administrators to share any incorrect or missing data with the LIFT Solar team, through the “Submit Edits” button on the project page.

Defining LMI Community Solar

For the LIFT project, community solar projects qualify as serving LMI households if:

  1. They include requirements that ensure LMI participation through capacity carve-outs, income-eligibility, or targeted incentives.
  2. They deliver value to subscribers through bill credits and virtual net metering.

Low- to moderate-income or LMI households can be defined differently from project to project, but specific income eligibility is mandated. For example 80% of Area Median Income or 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Some projects may target high-density, low-income, or environmental justice communities as a means of qualifying subscribers.

LMI Community Solar Data Collection

LIFT gathered and analyzed project finance and associated customer experience data from a diverse set of solar projects and programs. The LIFT team worked closely with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to compare and reconcile a comprehensive list of community solar projects serving LMI households developed through independent research during 2021 and 2022. 

Project Optimization Algorithm

  • Similar Projects with the most “hits” on driver value matches (between the proposed Project Profile, and existing projects in our database)

  • Each Best Practice has a set of driver values that must be matched, in a 1:1 value match or a combination. For example: If Tax Treatment = No, THEN Best Practice: Tax Equity Investment

  • Each Case Study has a set of Best Practices mapped to the drivers as mentioned above.

  • Resources are also mapped to the set of driver values as Best Practices are.

  • Case study projects were selected based on innovative approaches to overcoming unique barriers. Details were compiled based on publicly available information and verified through interviews with project staff. 

Case Studies

Case study projects were selected based on innovative approaches to overcoming unique barriers. Details were compiled based on publicly available information and verified through interviews with project staff. 


Methodologies for original LIFT research can be found in the respective reports.

A step-by-step demonstration of the Toolkit

Acknowledgments: This project has relied on the support and collaboration of many external partners. The team would like to acknowledge and thank the following contributors for their expertise, guidance, and commitment to the development of the LIFT Toolkit and the promotion of equitable and accessible community solar:

To the LIFT Research Advisory Committee (RAC), for their guidance throughout the entire research and Toolkit development phase. Their recommendations have helped to ensure the effort is the most comprehensive research undertaking of the community solar sector as possible.

To Modo Design Group for developing the Toolkit website software and design code. Modo Design Group developed the initial Toolkit wireframes, all coding for the Beta site pages, and for the final site pages following user acceptability testing.

To Clare Shemeta, MedWare, Inc., for her dedicated commitment to developing the LIFT Case Studies. Her expertise and thorough work generated 17 of the 25 Case Studies on the Toolkit.

To Anza Electric Cooperative, Inc., BlueHub Capital, the City of Edina – Engineering Department, Cooperative Energy Futures, GRID Alternatives, Inclusiv, Orcas Power & Light Cooperative, Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative, Roanoke Electric Cooperative, Solar One, Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, and the University of New Hampshire – Carsey School of Public Policy for reviewing the LIFT Toolkit site in its Beta testing phase to provide suggestions for finalization of the Toolkit.

To the collaborating partners on all projects highlighted in our LIFT Case Studies, for providing their time, insights, external review, and approvals for the development of each study. And finally to Program Administrators for their generous support in providing data that went into the Toolkit. 

Disclaimer: This project was supported by the US Department of Energy EERE grant DE-EE0008567/0004, Accelerating Low Income Financing and Transactions (“LIFT”) for Solar Access Everywhere. As such, this website expresses the analysis and opinions of the four organizations comprising LIFT. It was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.