The recent power outages in Texas, as well as California and Puerto Rico, showcased our nation’s need for a more resilient electrical grid in many regions. Grassroots advocacy groups are calling for finding a solution through rooftop solar panels.
President Biden’s proposed legislation to combat climate change, his “Green New Deal,” aims for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and carbon-neutral operations for the electricity sector by 2035, according to an article in The National Law Review. The Energy Policy Act of 2020 set a goal of 25 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity on public lands by 2025, but does not focus as heavily on rooftop and community solar, according to an article published by The Intercept.
Yet, research points to the benefits of solar energy in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change, The Intercept writes. A study prepared by Vibrant Clean Energy LLC found that developing 247 gigawatts of locally generated solar power could save people $473 billion, versus putting that energy into large-scale renewables such as commercial solar initiatives and wind farms to achieve Biden’s goal of reducing carbon emissions 95% by 2050, The Intercept reports.
An initiative named “30 Million Solar Homes” is advocating for rooftop solar, specifically in the homes of rural and urban communities as well as communities of color across the U.S. “The communities are the hardest hit by environmental injustice and have the most to gain from clean energy,” says the organization’s website.
The organization notes the benefits of implementing solar, which go beyond increased sustainability and fighting climate change to:
- Energy cost savings
- Job creation
- Increased energy independence
- Reduced energy injustice
The organization Solar United Neighbors, which is leading the initiative along with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the Initiative for Energy Justice, connects consumers with free solar co-ops as well as guidance in purchasing or leasing solar panels for their homes.
Rooftop solar “aids in grid flexibility and resiliency and mitigating peak demand,” said Solar United Neighbors Texas program director Hanna Mitchell.
“It’s not just about rooftop solar, but solar in general, and using it as a tool to come out of the economic damage that (COVID-19) has caused,” Yesenia Rivera, Solar United Neighbors’ director of energy equity and inclusion, told The Intercept. “It’s policies on community solar and above all workforce development, so we can use solar as a tool for economic development in an equitable and just way.”
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