One of the challenges that mayors and city leaders face as they develop climate action plans is insuring that all communities are able to reap the rewards and opportunities that can accompany climate solutions. This is especially the case for plans that rely on heavy initial investments that may be prohibitive for poor and working class communities. This has long been the case for roof-top solar.
Rooftop solar is a sound investment that gives homeowners freedom and choice as to where they source their energy. Solar will eventually pay for itself, the technology slashes home electricity bills and homeowners can even sell back excess electricity to local utilities. Citywide solar initiatives also boost local economies and create stable, well paying jobs. However, for many communities, the initial costs are simply too high.
Community groups are now working to develop ways to bring the benefits of solar to low income communities. These leaders are rethinking the way that rooftop solar is metered and financed, and are working with state and local officials to explore ways of making such clean energy investments more affordable. Find out how to lead the charge in your city by visiting Path to Positive Communities!
Solar power has been criticized for helping the wealthy and punishing the poor. Some groups — largely, it should be noted, utilities and advocacy groups funded by fossil fuel interests — say only affluent people can afford solar, leaving less-affluent people to pay more than their share for the grid.
But it turns out that in the battle to transition to a cleaner, more networked grid, low-income communities are the next big front.
There is no question that distributed solar changes the way we get and pay for our electricity. It is a disruptive technology — something that can change the fundamental way business is done. That in and of itself creates resistance, but when talking about who can afford solar, it’s worth looking at a parallel example.
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