Work will address energy affordability, access to renewable energy, and energy reliability in East Austin neighborhoods

Austin, TX (March 9, 2022) – Two Austin organizations were selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to participate in the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) to discover transformative ways of accelerating equitable residential solar adoption in historically underserved communities. Seven other projects around the country were selected to participate in the SEIN program.

Pecan Street will execute the project with GAVA (Go Austin/Vamos Austin), a health equity community organizing nonprofit in Austin’s Eastern Crescent.

“Energy affects all of us, but not everyone has equal access to energy choices. Households and communities of color continue to be unfairly burdened by high energy costs and are disproportionately impacted by grid outages,” said Pecan Street Inc. CEO Suzanne Russo. “This project will not only help NREL and SEIN better understand the energy challenges in these communities, it will help uncover solutions that make clean energy options more accessible and affordable.”

The team will develop models for community-led engagement that remove technical and financing obstacles which keep rooftop solar systems out of reach for many families. This partnership will combine best practices from affordable housing, weatherization assistance, and financial literacy programs to adapt energy efficiency loan programs and build trust in disadvantaged communities victimized by predatory lending practices.

“Communities of color are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and disruptions to the energy grid,” said Austin City Council member Sabino “Pio” Renteria. “The Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) is an incredible community-led project that will help remove obstacles and facilitate the equitable transition to renewable energy in historically underserved neighborhoods. I am proud that Pecan Street and GAVA have been selected to lead this project in Austin.”

The Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) is a U.S. Department of Energy program that helps communities develop transformative ways of adopting solar energy. Teams work together and with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop their ideas in real-world contexts, yielding results that can unlock tomorrow’s solar markets.

About Pecan Street Inc.
Pecan Street is internationally renowned for its pioneering research model that integrates communities, technology developers, data scientists and advocates to accelerate the pace of innovation for climate and conservation solutions. Pecan Street applies a high-impact research and development approach to high potential, cost-effective climate solutions that are impeded by lack of data and technology readiness. Pecan Street is a 501(c)(3) applied research and commercialization institute. Learn more at www.pecanstreet.org.

About GAVA
GAVA is a non-profit health equity community organizing coalition. GAVA organizers co-design goals with resident experts who bring their lived experience and contextualize strategies alongside trusted content experts to shape tactics used to drive change. GAVA works in South, Southeast, and North-Central Austin and has leveraged over $13 million in infrastructural, programmatic and policy improvements to support healthy living in our neighborhoods. Improvements are related to healthy food access, pedestrian infrastructure, park and greenbelt access, disaster preparedness training, workforce development, early childhood, school health, and community leadership development. Learn more at www.goaustinvamosaustin.org

Contact:
Colin Rowan, Pecan Street Inc., media@pecanstreet.og, 512-222-9603

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