More-Affordable Solar Power for Homes
A new initiative plans to expand access to community-shared solar power
Published July 8, 2015
As summer electric bills soar thanks to air-conditioning, many of us are hoping for a way to cut the cost of energy in our homes. An initiative announced yesterday by the White House outlines executive actions designed to lower energy bills by increasing everyone's access to solar energy. In particular, the initiative is targeted toward low- and moderate-income communities.
Rooftop panel installations have increased 17-fold since 2008, and the cost of solar electrical systems has dropped 50 percent since 2010. The key components of the initiative aim to scale up solar access and increase the solar workforce.
The U.S. Department of Energy's newly launched National Community Solar Partnership will bring together the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, solar companies, nonprofit organizations, state and community leaders, and financial institutions. The partnership will create Community Solar Programs and use the DOE's expertise to bring solar to communities and businesses that otherwise would not have access, such as renters or those without sufficient roof space. If this previously untapped population is reached, community and shared solar could represent 32 to 49 percent of the solar energy market by 2020.
Other key components of the initiative include: increased solar energy in federally subsidized housing, plus technical assistance for installation; cost-saving solar-energy projects supported by housing authorities, rural-electric co-ops, power companies, and other organizations; and philanthropic and independent investments to advance community solar projects for low- and moderate-income households. Companies like Panasonic Eco Solutions are already on board, offering programs that target energy-starved states, such as Hawaii.