Why Solar - StraightUp Solar

Everyone Should Have Access to Solar

Today, finally the average working family can afford solar!

But to be real, solar remains financially out of reach for the people that need it the most, those living in poverty. This is disturbingly true on both the buy and employment sides of the solar equation.

As of 2015, the last year of federal stats, 19% of all families with children under the age of 16 lived below the poverty line. In 2017, the poverty line for a family of four was $24,600/year. These are the people who are in the greatest need of lowering their monthly electric expense.

Connecting the poorest of individuals with appropriate job training and subsequent employment opportunities is one surefire way to fight poverty. This remains an enormous challenge for those living in economically depressed and rural communities.

Solar photovoltaics (PV)  presents one solution. There are more individuals employed in the solar industry today than in the coal industry. Demand for solar is growing fast and unlike coal mining, solar creates employment in every corner of the nation.

Moreover, widespread adoption of solar generation elsewhere may also have a significant impact on poor communities. Nationally, power plants are disproportionately located near low-income communities. Air pollution is a contributing factor to asthma, a chronic problem among children growing up in poverty, and the other lung-related illnesses they will be more susceptible to in adulthood.

Helping Low-Income Communities Experience the Power of Solar

Quite remarkably, despite the national epidemic of political gridlock, Illinois lawmakers took decisive action in December 2016, to address low-income access to solar electricity and solar employment. They created Illinois’s Solar for All Program under the Future Energy Jobs Act. which was signed into law in December 2016.

 

Illinois's Brand New Law - the Future Energy Jobs Act

The Solar for All programming established in the Act includes only broad guidelines. The State’s Illinois Power Agency (IPA) is responsible for managing the creation of specific programs and they just began the process in earnest in spring 2017. Here are a few of the highlights so far:
Financial incentives will be available to make solar installations affordable for low-income individuals;
Minimum of 25% of certain funds must go into Environmental Justice Communities;
Solar-specific training is called for within the program;
Participating Solar Installers must hire some low-income trainees from the program;
Financial incentives will also be provided for low-income communities and nonprofit organizations in order to own
Shared Solar Projects