Well-designed and implemented solar investment programs can bring permanent wealth into low-income communities by becoming a source of local, living-wage jobs and empowering families with a tangible asset that delivers economic value for decades.
The opportunity is significant. According to the Low Income Solar Policy Guide, issued in 2016 by a group of nonprofit solar installers and advocates including GRID Alternatives, Vote Solar, and the Center for Solar, there are over 6 million affordable housing units in the U.S. and around 22 million owner-occupied households with incomes at or below 80 percent of their area median income.
The challenge, however, is actually providing a feasible route for low-income households to access solar through better energy policies. The Guide has an online tool that shares some of the most successful policies and programs both for single-family, multi-family and community solar. For example, they look at California’s Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes and Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Programs. Other examples includes Colorado’s Community Solar Gardens Act, Massachusetts’ Green communities Act of 2008 and Solar Loan Program, New York State’s Green Jobs-Green New York Act of 2009, NY-Sun’s Affordable Solar Program, community Distributed Generation Program, and Washington, DC’s Sustainable Energy Utilities Small-Scale Solar Initiative.