Solar Equity is Procedures Restoration Distribution Recognition
The initiatives and processes aimed at enhancing accessibility to rooftop and community solar systems, as well as the incentives for transitioning to solar energy within communities most impacted by climate change.
Why is solar equity important?
Ensuring solar equity is crucial because, without fair access to solar ownership, wealth disparities in the United States can become exacerbated. High initial costs act as barriers, particularly affecting non-white households by lowering solar ownership rates. This means that, without equitable distribution of solar ownership, new solar development has the potential to worsen wealth inequality in the U.S
What makes solar inaccessible?
The community solar industry is largely driven by the presence of two wealthy players: financiers and utilities. The majority-white, wealthy, and male financiers that are currently essential for the development of large-scale, community solar are often rewarded handsomely for their investments. Their control over the wealth in this field drives inequities in the market, as community solar policies are often designed with the expansion of financier profits prioritized and programs are designed to restrict access to low-to-moderate income populations who financiers perceive as “risky” to their bottom-line.
With ample incentives for financiers and utilities to maintain the status quo, a conceptually accessible form of clean energy has largely excluded those that stand to benefit the most from its production.
Households eligible for programs like SNAP and Medicaid, and communities of color are largely incapable of entering the industry, as they lack the resources, infrastructure, and access within solar networks to participate in the development of their own projects. Furthermore, those in power have stoked a divide between unionists and environmentalists, as solutions to climate change are portrayed as a direct affront to the working class. The systems that perpetuate inequities across systems are unfortunately apparent within the world of community solar. Therefore, forming solutions to improving access to this industry requires actively working to restructure this power imbalance.