This week the White House announced multiple programs to expand Americans’ access to solar power, particularly for low-income communities and renters.
Central to the federal solar plans is formation of the new National Community Solar Partnership. Community solar, also called shared solar, allows people to source energy from nearby solar panels rather than having them installed on their roof. This resolves a fundamental problem with solar access – the large number of people who don’t own their roofs because they rent, or own roofs that aren’t structurally able to support a solar system. These issues are particularly prevalent in low-income neighborhoods.
The newly announced partnership encourages utilities, government agencies, and private companies to collaborate in establishing and expanding community solar arrays.
This announcement, along with SELC’s solar work, builds on the momentum already fueling enormous growth in the Southeastern solar industry. SELC has been encouraging Southeastern utilities to invest in community solar programs, knowing that, while there are a few programs just getting off the ground, this is largely new terrain. We recently released a guide of best practices to help utilities take advantage of this moment and make solar more accessible.
The growth in solar also means new job opportunities. The White House initiative aims to train low-income Americans for jobs needed by the growing solar industry, including an AmeriCorps program focused on solar skills. Other elements of the White House strategy include a commitment to triple the capacity of alternative energy at federally subsidized housing by 2020 and improving financing options for solar installations.
Read the Charlotte Business Journal story on how these federal programs will help North Carolina.