No one can benefit more from solar than low-income households. Giving low-income people access to solar can reduce their electric bills. The Clean Energy States Alliance’s (CESA’s) new guide, Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers, shows how policymakers can implement solar programs for low-income people.
Low-income households are disproportionally impacted by the costs of traditional fossil-fuel electric generation, according to a study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. It evaluated 48 cities in the US and found that median income households spent 3.5 percent of their income on electricity bills, while low-income households spent 7.2 percent of their income on power.
“Nobody needs to save on their electric bills more than low-income households, but this population also has the hardest time accessing solar,” said Bentham Paulos, author of the CESA guide. “This guide offers a suite of policy options to help bring the benefits of solar power to those who need it most.”
CESA’s guide recommends that states use energy policies to include low-income incentives for solar power and to adapt housing and anti-poverty programs to harness solar as an economic driver. The guide said it can create jobs, reduce electricity bills and provide economic development within low-income communities.
“Distributed solar can be a powerful tool to help reduce low-income customers’ energy burdens and contribute to healthier and more secure communities,” said CESA Project Director Nate Hausman.
Financing solar power has always kept most low-income households from attaining the benefits of solar power. The guide recommends using indirect incentives like online bill repayments, property-assessed clean energy programs and pay-as-you-save programs and to include models to finance solar for low-income communities. Direct incentives for low-income households, like renewable energy certificates, net-metering, virtual net-metering and crowdfunding campaigns are also financing tools that policymakers can explore.
The guide also suggests promoting volunteerism within low-income communities can not only provide hands-on solar job training but creates future community service opportunities. It recommended partnering with recognized low-income advocacy organizations, such as Grid Alternatives, to ensure community trust and help increase participation during program development and implementation.Tweet