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eLab Leap: A Clean, Prosperous, and Secure Low-Carbon Future for All

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Rocky Mountain Institute is focused on creating a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future … for all.

Close to fifty million Americans live at or below the federal poverty line. These and other low-income communities and households who stand to benefit most from clean energy face the greatest barriers to its use.

To date, solutions for integrating growing amounts of distributed energy resources (DER) into the electric grid have focused largely on utilities, regulators, third-party service providers, and more affluent customer segments. However, low-income communities and households represent a growing crucial stakeholder group that must be part of the grid’s evolution. Current programs and policies for low-income segments do not sufficiently address the energy cost burden bore by this population, and face the greatest level of uncertainty, particularly with funding, moving forward.

As the U.S. electricity system evolves to include a higher percentages of DERs, eLab Leap is working to ensure that low-income households and communities have an equal opportunity to access a clean energy future. Leap uses the eLab approach to:

  • Identify, understand, and overcome obstacles to clean energy access and deployment in low-income segments;
  • Measure and characterize the technical and market opportunities for deployment of clean energy solutions to serve low-income households and communities;
  • Identify, incubate, and accelerate new programs and business solutions through a proven innovation process that leverages an existing network of experts;
  • Cross-pollinate findings and solutions among service providers, community-based organizations, state and local governments, regulators, utilities, financiers, and others; and
  • Scale successful solutions across states and nationally.


eLab Leap is currently working in New York through a social change lab that enables diverse stakeholders to form untraditional working partnerships and co-develop creative and new solutions that empower low-income households and communities to benefit from a clean energy future. Rather than providing solutions from the outside the NY Change Lab strengthens the capacity of local partners to conceive, launch, and execute low-income focused initiatives in collaboration with key allies.

In addition to convening the change lab, eLab Leap has a goal of accelerating promising LI clean energy delivery concepts, and a focus on advancing pilot projects that serve as a foundation for scaling. eLab Leap is conducting research efforts in support of emerging business models that are being developed specifically to serve low-income customers.

For eLab Leap research, reports, meeting notes, and other relevant resources, please see our Resources Page


For information about eLab Leap, please contact Coreina Chan.

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