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Solar Power to the People

  • Posted by SHFT on October 23, 2013 in Energy
  • If you assumed that super-wealthy homeowners are the only ones putting rooftop solar panels on their houses, you wouldn't be alone. But, according to a new Center for American Progress (CAP) study, you would be wrong.

    The CAP report used residential solar installation data from the Arizona Public Service (APS), California Solar Initiative (CSI) and New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) databases to examine solar adoption trends across income levels in the country's three largest solar markets –- Arizona, California and New Jersey. It found that rooftop solar is overwhelmingly being adopted in middle class neighborhoods, where median incomes range from $40,000 to $90,000. And the areas that experienced the most growth from 2011 to 2012 had median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $50,000 in both Arizona and California and $30,000 to $40,000 in New Jersey.

    From Think Progress:

    These findings are in contrast with the current utility-industry narrative, which paints rooftop solar as a technology that is only being adopted by the wealthy. The contention then from many utility executives is that lower-income customers are subsidizing wealthy customers through solar policies, such as net metering. Earlier this year, Southern Company CEO Thomas Fanning told shareholders that if solar customers aren’t paying the utility for the use of the electric grid, then “…you in effect have a de facto subsidy of rich people putting solar panels on their roof and having lower-income families subsidize them.”

    And yet, as the report shows, the majority of new solar adopters are not exactly a one-percenter crowd. Thanks to innovations like solar leasing and net metering (getting credit for sending excess solar power back to the grid), rooftop solar is more affordable than ever.

    (via Think Progress)

    Image credit: Shutterstock


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