Community solar programs increase access to green choices

Solar energy has several benefits for homeowners: reducing one's environmental footprint, saving on monthly costs and even supporting local businesses.

As shared in a recent article from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, though, access to solar energy can be out of reach for many U.S. residents, who cannot afford the up-front costs of installing photovoltaic panels.

To meet this need, community solar programs are cropping up around the country to bring solar power within reach of low-income residents, so that everyone can benefit from the resulting increased efficiency and lower energy bills.

In such an arrangement, many households own or lease shares in a single mid-sized solar facility. They then receive credits that lower their monthly utility bills, based on how much power the facility delivers to the overall grid. This system has already been in use by larger entities like businesses and universities, but single households have largely been shut out by the cost of enrollment in the system.

Now, several states are working to make community solar programs more accessible. For example, in Washington, D.C., the Solar For All program was created to bring the benefits of solar energy to 100,000 low- to moderate-income families in the District. The program will offer community solar options through various partnerships, as well as home panel installation to homeowners who qualify.

The recent increase in such programs suggests that state leaders are realizing that equitable access to environmentally friendly energy brings the benefits of a green community and a true living standard to all residents.

Read the Yale article on community solar