A new report by Solar United Neighbors and other groups found that deploying distributed solar energy to the equivalent of 30 million American homes would produce significant job-creation and economic benefits while addressing climate change and mitigating racial and income disparities. By enacting policies to support the 30 million homes goal, the report concludes that federal policy makers could create 1.77 million new jobs and lead to $69 billion in energy savings over the next five years. The Initiative for Energy Justice, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and Solar United Neighbors developed the report as part of the 30 Million Solar Homes campaign.
The decision between prioritizing more local, rooftop solar or more utility-scale systems and new transmission lines is on the forefront in Washington, D.C., as policymakers explore how to reach President Biden’s ambitious renewable energy goals.
The report builds on policy recommendations the groups developed to achieve the 30 million solar homes goal. The report provides both state-level and congressional district-level data detailing the economic and environmental benefits of these recommendations, and a map illustrating these benefits in each state and congressional district.
Additionally, the report found that enacting the 30 Million Solar Homes policies would:
Eliminate global warming air pollution equivalent to closing 48 coal-burning power plants or taking 42 million cars off the road for a year.
Increase new solar capacity nationally by 151 GW.
Power 20 million households in marginalized communities with local solar.
There is already broad-based support for this campaign. More than 330 energy equity, climate, business, environmental, faith and public health organizations signed a letter to Congress urging the adoption of these recommendations.
“Encouraging local rooftop and community solar is the best way to bring the economic benefits of federal clean energy investment to all Americans,” said John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Co-Director. “It creates several times as many jobs per million dollars of investment as utility-scale solar. It provides greater opportunities for local entrepreneurs to start small businesses or for families to lower and stabilize energy costs.”
The centerpiece of 30 Million Solar Homes is to rapidly and massively scale programs that help low-income families benefit from solar. The federal government spends billions of dollars every year to help families pay their energy costs, yet this approach serves less than 20% of the eligible population. Funding rooftop and community solar access targeted to these households would provide long-term financial relief and reduce the need for annual energy bill assistance. A majority of investment in the plan is reserved for marginalized communities.
“Americans of all political stripes support solar energy,” said Anya Schoolman, Solar United Neighbors Executive Director. “It’s one of the few things that unites people, regardless of where they live or political affiliation. People want to power their homes with solar. All we need is the political will to make it happen.”
The proposal asks for additional funding for energy assistance programs such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). This will increase the energy bill assistance these programs already provide while also enabling the programs to expand solar access.
“Congress and the Administration want to act on climate change, how they act matters,” said Subin DeVar, Initiative for Energy Justice Co-Founder. “The 30 Million Solar Homes program prioritizes widespread economic, financial, and employment benefits from climate action. It does so by focusing on rooftop and community solar and its prioritizing marginalized communities.”
Over the coming months the 30 Million Solar Homes campaign will educate lawmakers and the Biden-Harris Administration about the benefits of distributed solar energy and the policies that can get America to 30 Million Solar Homes.
News item from Solar United Neighbors