How can we increase access to renewable resources for all of Hartford’s residents, including those who are moderate- to low-income, live in a multi-family building, or rent their home?
Shared or “community” solar – which the Climate Stewardship Council endorsed by resolution at its meeting today – is one excellent way to close the “solar equity gap.”
For many Hartford residents, solar energy is out of reach. Here in Connecticut, residents who have installed solar usually live in freestanding, single-family homes, which they own, and have paid for the system up front (suggesting they are likely moderately-high to high income). Most Hartford residents do not own their homes; as renters, they cannot make the decision to install solar. In addition, residential lots in Hartford are much smaller than in suburban areas, which means there is less space to put a solar energy installation, even when a family might be able to afford one. And many families just can’t afford solar – though we have been trying to address financial barriers in part through Hartford’s participation in Solar for All and SolarizeCT, programs of the CT Green Bank.
Yet as the graph above shows, Hartford residents pay far more into the Residential Solar Investment Program than they get out of it.
Connecticut legislators could help close this equity gap from making shared solar widely available. A shared solar law would allow anyone with an electric bill to buy a portion of energy produced from a solar array located elsewhere. Savings would automatically be credited on electric bills. Shared solar helps residents, but it also creates local jobs for installers, maintenance personnel, and others.
The legislature approved a small pilot program in 2015, but this pilot program is behind schedule, and it’s not enough to drive the kinds of innovative, large-scale projects that we need. It’s important for us all to push the shared solar agenda forward.
To that end, the Climate Stewardship Council has agreed to sign onto the Share the Sun campaign from Connecticut Fund for the Environment. Do you or your neighborhood, condo association, or organization want to learn more about how to benefit from shared solar? Learn more at www.ctenvironment.org/share-the-sun or contact the organizers (one pictured at left) by email.