California is naturally a great state for anyone with a green thumb and an eye toward alternative energy; not only is the state sunny enough year-round to support a solar energy system, but state lawmakers have dedicated plenty of legislation toward protecting homeowners who use wind and solar energy.
Previously, alternative energy usage was restricted to the wealthier homeowners in California simply because, despite a 20% increase in solar energy usage over the past 15 years, it’s still expensive to have a complete system installed.
The average rooftop solar installation in California costs about $15,000, the SF Gate reports, and an overwhelming majority (67%) of solar arrays installed in Californian homes in 2013 went to households where the total income was between $40,000 and $90,000. The remaining percentage were installed in the homes of those who make even more.
A new statewide program may be changing this, sooner rather than later, so that low-income residents in California are able to install solar panel systems.
The SF Gate and Gazette Review report that a new program run by the Oakland-based nonprofit organization Grid Alternatives would provide funding assistance for solar panel installations in low-income Californian households.
The program already has $14.7 million, which was raised through California’s cap-and-trade system. This system was implemented in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it requires commercial entities, like power plants and oil refineries, to provide financial compensation for every ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
With Grid Alternatives’ help, an estimated 1,600 low-incomes homes will receive solar panel installations by the end of 2016. According to the Gazette Review, the recipients of the solar panel systems won’t be required to pay a cent, and they can save anywhere from $400 to $1,000 in annual energy costs right away.
The program is still in early planning stages, and as the Gazette Review notes, the current program is not a good long-term solution because it relies heavily on volunteer labor and does not have a consistent stream of funding.