Solar energy is becoming more and more accessible to a wider range of Connecticut residents — including Latinos and blacks, according to an article in solarbuildermag.com.
The increase is due in large part to Connecticut Green Bank’s successful efforts to make solar energy not only more accessible but also more affordable to homeowners in communities of color and low-to-moderate income (LMI) households by engaging these underserved communities.
While the number of rooftop solar installations in the country has increased more than 50 percent each year over the past seven years, communities of color in many states are not adapting to solar power. According to a 2019 Tufts University study, majority Latino and black neighborhoods have installed less rooftop solar panels compared to no majority race neighborhoods by 61 to 45 percent. Majority white neighborhoods installed 37 percent more.
In an attempt to address this disparity, Green Bank launched the Residential Solar Investment Program (RISP) as a way to make rooftop solar installations more affordable.
In 2015, Green Bank and its board of directors addressed an observed income disparity in solar adoption by adding special incentives for low and moderate-income households. This quickly accelerated solar adoption in low and moderate income communities.
Currently, there are 86 percent more RISP installations in majority black neighborhoods and 18 percent more in majority Latino neighborhoods as compared to white neighborhoods.
Increased growth in access to solar energy in the state has been Green Bank’s Solar for All program. In 2015, Green Bank sent out a request for proposals that sought contractors to help reach underserved markets. This resulted in a partnership with solar provider PosiGen and the creation of the Solar for All 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 underserved 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.”