Rooftop Solar For All


Flickr user tai viinikka via creative commons.

2173175291_5b9dfbf1d6_bRooftop solar panels are cheaper than ever, but they’re still unaffordable for many of us. That’s why what Grid Alternatives is doing in Denver is so innovative — they’re trying to keep renewable energy from becoming a luxury good by helping low-income people install solar panels on their houses.

In Colorado, everyone has access to rebates for solar. But often times, low-income families can’t afford the upfront cost of buying solar panels. From reporter Stephanie Paige Ogburn at Inside Energy member station KUNC:

Homeowners who meet the income qualifications add in sweat equity, maybe by helping with construction or cooking lunches for the install team, and pay a small amount over time for the solar panels.

The savings they get from the panels can make a big difference, said Shirley Moore, program manager at the Denver office of Grid Alternatives.

“If you are low income, utility bills often a greater percent of your budget,” she said.

Other organizations are trying out crowd sourcing as a way to make rooftop solar even more affordable.

Of course, there are other barriers to widespread adoption of rooftop solar besides cost. Last week, Dan Boyce reported on why some big utilities are making it hard for homeowners to install solar panels.

Check out our Solar Challenge series for more on how energy is becoming “distributed.”