Should solar energy only be accessible to those who can afford to invest in a solar system?
The California Solar Initiative (CSI) has created financial incentives to encourage California citizens to adopt solar, helping homeowners across California reduce their electric bills.
A residential solar system in California will typically pay for itself in about 5 years, making the upfront cost a practical investment. The homeowner can watch as her electric meter spins backwards, reducing her electricity bill and giving her the satisfaction of knowing she’s doing her part to reduce her family’s carbon footprint.
But what about the homeowners who don’t have the money to invest in a solar electric system?
Unfortunately, solar energy is not always an option for people without the means to finance a solar system, even through a lease or power purchase agreement. When you have mouths to feed and bills to pay, clean energy doesn’t seem to be either an option or a priority.
To address this issue, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) offers solar rebate programs specifically designed for low-income homes in California. The Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH), along with the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program (MASH), was put in place with California Assembly Bill 2723.
This law allocates a minimum of 10% of the funds from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) to help qualified low-income households access solar energy through these programs. The Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH) gives low-income homeowners up-front rebates for the installation of solar electric systems in the service territories of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E).
Unless new legislation is made into law, the SASH program will come to close on December 31st 2015 – or sooner if funds run out before this date.
Assembly Bill (AB) 217, or the “Equitable Access to Solar Energy Bill,” was introduced in January 2013. This bill proposes a new program that provides financial incentives for solar installations on low-income homeowners through 2021. It would provide 50 megawatts worth of monetary incentives for low-income residents to install solar systems to promote more equitable access to clean energy.
If AB 217 becomes law,it will require the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to adopt this program, which would be funded by ratepayers within the territories of the San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas and Electric.
GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit organization that sponsors AB 217, is currently the statewide Program Manager for the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH). Through SASH, GRID Alternatives has already helped more than 2,000 homeowners access the benefits of clean energy.
GRID Alternatives takes pride in offering their volunteers hands-on installation experience and networking opportunities that often lead to employment in the solar industry. Before Dave Donaldson became our lead design engineer, he was an passionate team leader for solar installations for Grid Alternatives. Most of the team at GoGreenSolar.com has volunteered with Grid Alternatives throughout the years.
What can you do to help?
Help Grid Alternatives continue to power communities in need by writing a letter of support for the AB 217.
I believe clean, renewable energy is key to the evolution of society as a whole. Solar powers our planet, why not harness it to power humanity? Let's power our homes, our work, and our vehicles with solar energy. It begins with raising awareness and encouraging those around us to go green.