In the District of Columbia as well as over a dozen states solar energy incentives are paving the way to bring renewable energy to people that previously could not afford it. In addition the solar industry has training programs that are helping people to find jobs in the industry.
SolarWorks DC is a renewable energy/job training organization that assists low to moderate income families in being trained in solar as well as job placement. D.C. recently completed its 100th solar install with Solar Works as part of its plan to go 100% renewable by 2032. Through the initiative, the goal is to provide solar energy to over 100,000 families no matter if they own their home or they are renting in multi-occupancy buildings. They project power bills to be slashed by 50% or more.
Developed by the D.C. Department of Employment Services and the Department of Energy and Environmental, Solar Works DC has trained over 100 people in the solar industry creating jobs and helping to make sure that the area realizes its renewable energy goals.
The U.S. power grid is being transformed by renewable energy as even utilities are embracing it because the cost of operation is now even lower than natural gas. As energy storage costs continue to go down the attraction to renewables will only grow. In addition to the tremendous revenue being generated, the most rapid renewable energy job growth has come from the solar and wind sectors, which rose by 24.5 percent and 16 percent, respectively, from 2016 to 2017. Solar and wind energy jobs outnumber coal and gas jobs in 30 states, including the District of Columbia.
Connecticut also has solar panel leasing initiative designed for low to moderate income households. A spin off of Connecticut Green Bank and Posigen Solar and Energy Efficiency, Inclusive Property Capital provides the funding for this proactive program. Electricity bills have now been reduced to below 4% of income for these families which puts them on par with the percentage of income wealthier households pay for power.
Elevate Energy, a non-profit operating out of Chicago, works to increase energy efficiency in multifamily buildings. The organization which covers 11 states, provides energy assessments, guidance and advice on solutions, and financing options.
The CEO of Elevate Energy, Anne Evens, said that due to the fact that almost 50% of households in a lot of cities rely on renting in multifamily buildings it makes providing solar more difficult. The reason is that it is usually the tenants that reap the benefit of the savings, not the property owner. The way to get past this is by making property owners realize that having tenants that can pay their utility bills is beneficial to them. The organization has retrofitted almost 50,000 units over the last several years, in Chicago and elsewhere.
Across the country, the clean energy industry is trying different ways to reach low- and moderate-income residents, from innovative funding to access to community solar projects, according to Warren Leon, the executive director of the Clean Energy States Alliance. The alliance has published a directory of initiatives throughout the United States.
“We’re still somewhat in an experimental phase,” Leon said. “And part of the issue is it’s not so easy to do because there are a lot of obstacles.”
The most obvious is that it is difficult to afford a solar system, but there are others too, he said. Low- and moderate-income residents are more often renters; if they do own their homes, the roof might not be in a condition to hold solar panels.
ClearWorld is a leader in Solar LED Lighting solutions, Smart City and Smart Technology, and provides solar lighting for over 80 cities in the U.S. and in 10 countries.