Bright Spots in Solar in the Election’s Aftermath

, Senior energy analyst | November 21, 2016, 12:47 pm EDT
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Sure, the outcome of the election has raised questions about how the President-elect and his team will impact the country’s transition to a cleaner, healthier, and safer electricity system. But regardless of how the politics du jour feel about renewables, the science has not changed: generating electricity from renewables like wind and solar does not cause pollution that harms our health or our planet. Relying more on renewable energy and less on polluting fossil fuels will clean our air, protect our health, and help prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

For me, the election was also a strong reminder that the clean energy transition needs to improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of where you live or how much money you make. One of the most exciting aspects of solar PV is that it’s modular enough to be installed virtually anywhere, be it a dense urban city or a remote, rural town.

Solar PV installed at a low-income housing complex for tribal elders in the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Oregon. Photo: DOE

Solar PV installed at a low-income housing complex for tribal elders in the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Oregon. Photo: DOE

But installing solar PV in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities has been challenging for several reasons. These include lack of access to credit, customers that may not control of their electricity bills or what goes on their roofs because they live in apartment buildings, and lack of effective community outreach.

Yet a recent announcement from the Department of Energy gives me a bit of hope. The DOE’s SunShot Initiative just awarded $1.73 million to the Clean Energy States Alliance to work with Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia to develop new solutions for solar penetration in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. The grant will allow these states to explore the best ways to increase LMI community adoptions of solar in a way that addresses each states’ unique circumstances.

Now, I realize that $1.73 million is not much by itself to make headway on this important issue. The good news is that it’s just one example of several efforts across the country to develop new policies and programs that will bring solar to LMI communities and in turn, help create better jobs, cleaner air, and lower electricity bills. The attitude on renewables at the White House come January may be murky, but it’s clear that across the country, people see the benefits of clean energy like solar PV, and continue to be dedicated to making it it happen for their communities.

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  • Laura Wisland

    Since it’s unclear how the DOE will engage in efforts like these in the new administration, your comment is spot on. State and local leadership is now more important than ever.

  • solodoctor

    Will the DOE continue with these funding efforts once Trump is in the White House? I suspect it will come down to even more efforts needed by state and municipal leaders around the country. Even if/when Congress removes the tax incentives for such projects!