Nonprofits release 'Low-Income Solar Policy Guide'

Three national nonprofit organizations recently partnered to create an online resource that examines solar industry programs and policies as they relate to low-income American families.

The three nonprofits — the New York-based Center for Social Inclusion, California-based GRID Alternatives and California-based Vote Solar — launched the “Low-Income Solar Policy Guide” on March 14 during an event in Manhattan.

In a recent news release announcing its release, the organizations touted the website as a comprehensive guide to how federal policy can increase access to solar energy and create jobs for low-income households nationwide.

“Declining solar costs and fast industry growth create opportunities to put solar energy to work providing long-term financial relief, stable employment, and improved environmental health in underserved communities,” according to the news release. “The guide, aimed at policymakers and community leaders, shows how targeted policies at national scale can open solar access for many of America’s 6 million affordable housing units and 22 million owner-occupied households defined as low-income.”

The guide also provides an overview of the barriers faced by low-income communities throughout the U.S. and looks at programs in several states (California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and Washington D.C.) that aim to help citizens overcome such obstacles.

“Solar is a technology that benefits everyone,” Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in the release. “By providing stable electricity prices below local utility rates, solar energy can substantially reduce the energy burden of low-income households. We’re confident that with the right policies in place, solar will continue to grow all across America, bringing with it well-paying local jobs and the cleaner air quality that every American, socioeconomic status aside, deserves.”

During a similar launch and panel event held the day after the guide’s initial release, members of the U.S. Congress and senior representatives from the White House and the George Washington Solar Institute discussed guide in detail.

“Today we have affordable solar and other new clean energy options at our disposal, and we need new energy policies to match,” said Jon Wellinghoff, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “It’s time to go beyond simply protecting low-income customers to policies that truly empower them. Having more empowered customers generating electricity, consuming less, and actively participating in our shared energy system will lead to a cleaner, more robust, and lower-cost grid for everyone.”