CT is changing the trend of disparity regarding solar adoption in communities of color.
According to figures from Connecticut Green Bank, adoption of solar in communities of color is on the rise. This is due to Green Banks successful efforts to make solar energy more affordable for homeowners in these communities, as well as low-to-moderate income (LMI) households by actively engaging these traditionally unserved communities.
In the past seven years, the number of rooftop solar installations has increased by more than 50% per year. However, in many states, communities of color haven’t joined in this rapid adoption of solar. A 2019 Tufts University study found that majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have installed less rooftop solar compared to neighborhoods with No Majority race by 61% and 45%, respectively, while majority White neighborhoods installed 37% more.
Addressing the Problem
Green Bank launched the Residential Solar Investment Program (RSIP) in 2012 to make rooftop solar installations more affordable. This provided Connecticut homeowners with rebates and performance-based incentives (PBI) meant to lower the initial out-of-pocket costs. RSIP has helped over 30,000 households add solar to date. They continue to approach the current 300 megawatt program allocation. The Green Bank and it’s Board of Directors addressed an observed income disparity in solar adoption in 2015. They added special incentives for low and moderate income households to the residential solar program. Thus quickly accelerated solar adoption in low and moderate income communities.
Recent studies show that this has also been very successful in reaching communities of color in the state. Today, on a per owner-occupied household basis, there are 86 percent more RSIP installations in majority Black neighborhoods, 18 percent more in majority Hispanic neighborhoods, and 20 percent more in No Majority race neighborhoods as compared to majority White neighborhoods.
Solar For All
The Green Bank’s Solar for All program has been a primary driver of democratic access to solar energy in the state. The organization released a request for proposals seeking contractors to help reach under served markets in 2015. This RFP resulted in their partnership with solar provider PosiGen and the creation of the Solar for All program.
Solar for All utilizes Green Bank’s elevated incentive to offer LMI homeowners a solar lease along with energy efficiency upgrades. The upgrades are customized for each home and include air sealing, LED light bulbs, pipe wrap and programmable thermostats. These are in addition to the measures installed as part of the state’s Home Energy Solutions (HES) program. PosiGen’s Solar for All program has been even more successful than the overall RSIP program in reaching communities of color. PosiGen has more projects per home in majority Black (1275%), Hispanic (408%) and No Majority race (427%) neighborhoods than in majority White neighborhoods.
“In 2015, when we realized that all homeowners in Connecticut did not have access to the benefits of the clean energy economy, our mission compelled us to act. This study confirms that the response to our programs in under served communities of color has been even more positive than we anticipated,” said Bryan Garcia, president and CEO of Green Bank. “Today, there are still significant opportunities for residential solar growth in owner-occupied homes across the state, and we are committed to working with partners like PosiGen to continue to make green energy available and affordable for all Connecticut neighborhoods.”
Green Bank to Boost Solar in Communities of Color