California Set To Give Solar Panels To Low-Income Families For Free

Photo credit: Elena Elisseeva/shutterstock

California is the best state in the country if you want to go solar – but only if you’re rich enough. Due to the steep upfront costs of around $15,000, only those from middle- to upper-income families can afford to install solar arrays. A novel initiative is, however, looking to change that. This new project hopes to help disadvantaged communities see the sun in a different light.

Using money raised by the government to help fight global warming, the Grid Alternatives project aims to get polluting companies to pay for putting solar panels on the roofs of those who cannot afford them. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the plan is to use the cap-and-trade money raised by the state from companies who have to pay per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. The cost to the disadvantaged families: nothing.

Grid Alternatives has been made project manager of the $162 million Single-family Affordable Solar Homes ( SASH) project, the country’s first dedicated solar repayment system for low-income families. They want to install solar arrays to over 1,600 homes by the end of next year. Using job-training programs and donations from solar companies, they aim to keep the costs as low as possible. Whilst it is totally free for the families getting them installed on their houses, they do ask that the families either offer to feed the crew, or help them install the panels.

The state government in California raises an annual $14.7 million through the cap-and-trade system, aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and over the years this has totted up to an impressive $1.6 billion. By ploughing at least 10% of this money back into solar, the project aims to kill two birds with one stone – saving lower income families money, whilst also making big fossil fuel polluting companies help cut energy emissions in the state even further.

Anyone who is currently living in a neighborhood in California that is classed as disadvantaged is qualified to apply to get the arrays installed. Grid Alternatives predicts that it could save individual families up to $1,000 a year, which they hope could then be spent on other essentials such as food. The sun sets on the initiative in 2021, so if you’re living in the state, you might want to jump on board soon.

[via San Francisco Chronicle & Motherboard]

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