The residential solar industry has its roots in wealthy homeowners. The inception of the solar revolution meant that unless you had the cash to install solar panels, a homeowner did not install solar panels on their home. It has only been recently that most homeowners have been able to appreciate flexible finance options to have a solar energy system installed on their home. With the passing of SB 100, California sets clean energy targets at 50% by 2026, 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2045. Although the numbers set precedence for clean energy throughout the country, one area of concern is the impact these mandates will have on low-income families.
People Are Struggling to Pay
A recent report by the Energy Information Administration reported that 31% of all U.S. households, or about 1 in 5 households has to reduce or forgo food, medicine or other necessities to pay for an energy bill. The same report found that 10% of all households kept their homes at unhealthy or unsafe temperatures. According to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey, this is the first time in history that insecurity across all households has been found.
Households can spend more than 20% of their total income on electricity needs. Low-income electricity assistance programs only provide a limited amount of assistance. Weatherization assistance, which helps to insulate homes, have historically been slow, or non-responsive, meaning that low-income families are paying a disproportionate amount of income to energy management. The Trump administration recently ended the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, only compounding the problems low-income families face when it comes to managing their energy usage.
How Does Solar Fit In?
Many of you may be wondering where solar fits back into these demographics and socio-economic energy disaster. As California pushes to become more dependent on clean, renewable energy solutions, finding solutions that allow low-income homeowners and renters to benefit from costs savings of solar is imperative. Some argue it is a moral issue, explaining that if only the wealthy go solar and pay less toward the electrical grid, the only people left to pay for it are the people who can least afford it. Others argue that insuring low-income families are part of the green energy solution is the only true solution, as low-income families make up about 40% of all U.S. households.
For solar providers or solar finance companies, it also opens up a large, un-tapped solar market. Developing the un-tapped market can help replace lost blue-collar jobs with green-collar work, feed into the clear energy mandates and also ensure that everyone can benefit from the fiscal savings of solar power.
This is a big topic creating much discussion within the solar industry. If you have more questions or are interested in learning about solar solutions for your home or family, reach out to one of our Energy Advisers today.