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Delivering Solar to Low-Income Households in New York

How New York is working to expand access to solar power and open up energy choice

In New York, low-income households have low participation rates in renewable energy, such as solar, plus they are facing higher energy costs relative to income. That does not need to be the case, especially during the increasing uncertainty we are all facing at this time.

For that reason, we have summarized some of the programs that help low-income households access solar energy. One of the primary barriers to accessing solar is knowing how to. Other barriers which access to solar power include:

The Green New Deal and Solar for Low Income Households

Before we get directly into the programs, a little word first on what’s driving and supporting many solar programs, Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal, also know as the Climate Mobilization Act. This package of 10 bills is one of the most ambitious carbon reduction efforts across the U.S. and puts the focus on buildings, some of the heaviest emitters in the city.

The centerpiece, “The Dirty Buildings Act,” requires that buildings reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Greening the building through new windows, other retrofits and renewable energy initiatives, such as a solar rooftop – all help to reduce emissions, and ultimately, support the larger state goal of achieving 70% total renewable energy by 2030.

Below we outline a few of the best solar programs in New York, implemented by NYSERDA to help low-to-moderate income families access solar.

Addressing LMI participation with solar is key to achieving the goals set out in the Climate Mobilization Act. Since LMI households make up a large percentage of families in New York, any barriers in participation will put the brakes on climate action.

In a more recent development, Governor Cuomo announced that he would advance a 30-day budget amendment in order to speed up the permitting and construction of renewable energy projects. This amendment addresses one of the main stalls for solar project development that slows our progress towards the aggressive green targets set for New York.

New York has set an example for the rest of the county with support for clean energy for all. Even in these trying times, it is not a time to ignore energy injustice and the long-term threat of climate change. With the programs listed here, along with local community solar programs across the state, we hope to see more states follow New York’s example and implement a commitment to bring solar power to low-income households.

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