Affordable solar power is giving American homeowners control over their power bills like never before.
Net metering is allowing fixed income seniors to meet tight budgets by going solar. It's allowing parents to save for college tuition. It's helping cash-strapped families get back on their feet.
In leading solar states like Arizona, California and New Jersey, new solar projects are now overwhelmingly occurring in low and middle income communities where those savings are needed most. In communities nationwide, solar is an increasingly affordable and accessible energy option. Let's keep it that way.
Grace Gautier has owned her home in Denver, Colorado for 26 years and has used her tax return dollars every year to do home improvements. She worked in the medical field and is now retired, living on social security savings. Her electric bills have been cut in half since she went solar in mid-2013. These savings help her support her two grandchildren of whom she has full custody.
Grace says, "I'm always outside looking up saying 'come on sunshine!'" and "I go out every day to watch the meter spin backward."
George Burman lives in a townhouse with solar power in sunny Fresno, California where summer temperatures send air conditioner-driven electricity demand through the roof. A monthly electric bill can easily top $200, but that's what George spent on electricity in an entire year thanks to his investment in solar.
For George, net metering provides "relief from skyrocketing energy bills personally for me and my neighbors."
Solar allows schools to spend precious funds on education rather than energy bills. In California alone, solar is helping schools and other public agencies reduce their power bills by more than $2.5 billion over the next 30 years.
The Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District expects to save $170,000 in the first year from new solar energy systems and $9 million over the next 25 years. The savings will help reinstate music and arts programs that had to be cut in lean budget times. Said Superintendent Russell Freitas, “I don’t think people realize what the impact is for schools."
Rooftop solar keeps energy dollars invested in the community. Wherever there is a roof, there is an opportunity for economic activity and employment.
Military veteran Norman Graham found a job in solar while other industries were downsizing. Graham urges policymakers to protect net metering so that "the job trainees I train and mentor will continue to have vibrant careers in their own backyard - or, rather, on the roof - in the residential solar industry."
Solar jobs grew last year by 13.2%, far outpacing the general economy. Today the solar industry employs 119,000 Americans nationwide. Meet a few more of them here: