Almost every state and local government has an office in place to handle low-income weatherization. However, only 12 states and the District of Columbia have low-income solar energy programs currently in place. One of those states is Colorado.
On the forefront of normalizing solar energy, Colorado is on track to install 20 megawatts by 2019. Just this past year, the state declared official climate goals to help transition to clean energy. Colorado will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 25% by 2025, followed by another 10% reduction by 2030.
More impressively, Colorado is attempting to fix two problems in one fell swoop. They’ve been pursuing low-income solar programs since 2015, both individual and community-based. Not only do these programs assist in transitioning the state entirely to clean energy, but they also reduce utility costs for low-income families.
Low-Income Weatherization in the 21st Century
Technology evolves at a rapid rate. Many sectors struggle to stay current and up-to-date. However, it is only a matter of time before low-income weatherization organizations catch-up on a national level. California has championed low-income solar programs longer than any other state in the country. However, Colorado is emerging as a new standard-bearer. Hopefully, other states will follow suit.
According to Inside Climate News, Colorado’s Arapahoe County Weatherization Division views low-income solar programs as the “the logical next step in increasing potential energy-cost savings for low-income consumers.” The county identifies households who they deem “energy impoverished,” meaning they spend at least 10-15% of their income on energy.
Solar panel subsidization focuses on maximizing energy savings for low-income families. While a typical rooftop system can cost anywhere from $9,000 to $10,000, the savings are projected to exceed the costs. Within the first year offering the service, Arapahoe County installed around 50 rooftop panel systems. The annual savings for these houses averaged about $550 per home. That’s equal to a whopping 59% annual savings.
Serving the Global Community Through Shared Solar Energy
Community solar is another way in which Colorado aims to offset both the use and cost of fossil-fuel energy. Large solar arrays can be shared among communities to help reduce the use of non-renewable energy sources. “Under state law,” says Inside Climate News, “developers of the arrays must allocate 5 percent of the electricity to low-income customers.”
While some communities build solar arrays for general use, others make solar arrays specifically low-income households. In Fort Collins, Colorado, the Coyote Ridge Solar Farm is the most extensive low-income community solar array in the country. Grid Alternatives and other non-profits worked hand-in-hand with local utilities to make the 2-megawatt project a reality.
In total, over 400 low-income subscribers have saved up to 50% on their electricity bill through community solar arrays. Eight different community solar projects owe their thanks to Colorado’s commitment to clean energy. One can only hope other States will start spearhead solar energy projects.
Getting Started with Solar Energy
Regardless of your views on greenhouse gases, solar energy is a smart and attainable source of power. Solar energy reduces both energy use and consumer costs.
You can reduce your carbon footprint. Invest in the future. Go green. Get clean. Save the environment and your finances. Make the right choice for the world and for your business.
Solar Energy may be the right route for you or your business.