ACTION ALERT: Pass the Low-Income Solar Act of 2015
August 4, 2015
Credo Action & Elijah Zarlin / Credo Action & Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica
For the month of June 2015, 44% of new electric power capacity in the US came from wind power, 41.5% came from solar power, 13% came from biomass, and 2% came from natural gas. "While the cost of solar panels has gone down in recent years, it is still out of reach for millions of low-income families that need it the most," said Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. Ttat's why Sanders introduced the Low Income Solar Act of 2015 -- a $200 million initiative to make solar power more accessible to all.
ACTION ALEFT: Sanders Introduces Solar Initiative
[On Tuesday, July 7, 2015], Sen. Bernie Sanders . . . introduced legislation to make solar energy more accessible to low-income families.
"While the cost of solar panels has gone down in recent years, it is still out of reach for millions of low-income families that need it the most," said Sanders. "Families across this country struggle to pay electricity bills and access to solar energy can help reduce these costs."
The Low Income Solar Act of 2015 was introduced on the same day the White House proposed an initiative to make solar power more accessible to households and businesses. The Sanders bill would provide $200 million in loans and grants through the Department of Energy to offset the upfront costs for solar arrays on community facilities, public housing and low-income family homes.
These projects would be required to prioritize loans for woman- and minority-owned small businesses and set aside funding for developing solar arrays in Appalachia, Indian tribal lands and Alaskan native communities.
While low-income families are the hardest hit by rising utility prices, they are also the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the poor spend more than 60 percent of their income on basic necessities including electricity and food, compared to less than 45 percent for wealthy families. Helping low-income families use solar power addresses both of these issues.
"The scientific community tells us very clearly if we're going to reverse climate change and the great dangers it poses for the planet we must move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy," Sanders said. "We can achieve this goal, save families money and protect the planet for future generations."
To read a summary of the bill, click here.
Pass the Low-Income Solar Act of 2015
Elijah Zarlin / Credo Action and Working Assets
"Pass the Low Income Solar Act of 2015. We need to make clean, money-saving solar energy available to all Americans."
If powering our homes and businesses with solar energy is going to be a major solution to climate change, it can't be an option that's only available to some.
That's why the bill that Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced -- the Low Income Solar Act of 2015 -- is such a huge deal. 1 The bill would dramatically expand the availability of the financial and environmental benefits of solar power, through loans and grants to low-income families, public housing, and community facilities.
But unfortunately, we don't have a Congress that passes bills simply because they're excellent ideas. That's why we need to get to work whipping support for this bill in Congress right now. Can you sign the petition and help us make this bill a reality?
Tell Congress: Make solar energy available to all Americans. Pass the Low Income Solar Act of 2015. Click here to sign the petition.
Today, solar energy is more affordable than it's ever been, and is now the fastest growing source of energy in the U.S. But it's still out of reach for a large percentage of Americans who can't afford the cost of installation, can't qualify for financing, or who are renters and don't have appropriate rooftop access to install solar panels.
Today, out of the 645,000 homes and businesses with rooftop solar panels, less than 5 percent are households earning less than $40,000. 2
Sen. Bernie Sanders' Low Income Solar Act of 2015 would take direct aim at this problem by directly issuing grants for solar installation to low income homeowners with suitable rooftops, while connecting other households, like renters, with alternatives like community solar gardens which offer solar power access through a shared solar system.
With four times more of their income spent on energy than the average household, allowing low-income households to produce their own energy would provide major economic relief to those who need it most. And lower income households also statistically use less energy, meaning solar panels would cover a greater share of their energy needs.3
Low-income communities have also suffered the most from proximity to toxic and polluting fossil fuel facilities. Expanding access to clean solar power is an important step in alleviating toxic fossil fuel pollution, and the carbon pollution that is causing climate change.
This is a win-win idea if there ever was one, and that's why we need to make sure it wins in Congress.
Tell Congress: Make solar energy available to all Americans. Pass the Low Income Solar Act of 2015. Thank you for your activism.
Elijah Zarlin is the Campaign Manager for CREDO Action from Working Assets.
1. "Sanders Introduces Solar Initiative," Office of Senator Bernie Sanders, July 7, 2015.
2. "Bridging the Solar Income Gap," GW Solar Institute, January 2015.
3. "State Policies to Increase Low-Income Communities' Access to Solar Power," Center for American Progress, September 23, 2014.
Renewables = 98% Of New US
Electricity Generation Capacity In June
Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica
(July 28, 2015) -- Adding rooftop solar electricity generation capacity to FERC's monthly report on new electricity generation capacity, here's CleanTechnica's latest update on new US electricity generation capacity.
For the month of June, the story is that 44% of new capacity came from wind power, 41.5% came from solar power, 13% came from biomass, and 2% came from natural gas.
For January through June, the renewable share drops a bit. All renewables came to 78.4%, with almost all of that from solar and wind (75% of the total). Natural gas jumped up to 21.4%.
Of course, the story gets a lot worse when you look at total electricity generation capacity. Solar and wind together come to 7.6%, and all renewables come to 18%. Still, it was nice to see that more coal capacity was retired in June and some oil capacity was also retired. According to my calculations, coal capacity is actually down to 26.6%
Here are charts and a table if you want to dig further:
LISA: The Low Income Solar Act of 2015
Original Sponsor: Senators Sanders
The cost of solar power has plummeted in recent years, and as a result there are now 21.3 gigawatts of installed solar capacity in the US -- enough to power 4.3 million homes.
However, many low-income families who would benefit the most from a reduction in their electricity bills are not taking advantage of this affordable, sustainable energy source because of a combined lack of access to financing options, and living under a roof that cannot support a solar panel.
For homeowners with suitable roofs this legislation would provide grants to help reduce the upfront costs of installing solar panels. For renters or families unable to install solar on their roofs the bill provides loan s to solar developers to connect low-income familes to solar either physically, or virtually through the construction of community solar facilities. In all cases this bill encourages job training to local communities.
The Low Income Solar Act (LISA) would establish a loan and grant program through the Department of Energy that would:
* Grant money for part of the upfront cost of a residential solar array for low-income families owning their home;
* Loan money for organizations that find ways to provide access to community solar facilities to low - income families through local efforts;
* Incentivize the construction of community solar facilities that act as “virtual” solar roof panels for low - income families who cannot install directly on their own roofs by re serving program funds for community projects that leave savings with families;
* Focus on supporting programs that aim to fulfill the need for solar in geographical areas that have little or no solar deployment; • Promote diversity in the workforce by prioritizing loans for woman - and minority - owned small businesses;
* Require that loans are paid back with mechanisms that maximize the financial benefit to families; and
* Set aside a portion of funds for developing solar economies in Appalachia, Indian tribal lands, and Alaskan native communities.
LISA also aims to address several of the other barriers to widespread adoption of solar power in communities that need it the most, by providing funding for solar workforce training and development. It would also provide support to organizations that help to advance policies in state and local governments that in turn improve low - income resident access to solar.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.