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How Community Solar Can Help Social & Environmental Justice

Ampion Renewable Energy


May 10, 2021

How Community Solar Can Help Social & Environmental Justice

Every day it seems, we are learning more about the power imbalances in communities that experience racial, economic, and environmental inequities. The idea of climate justice asks us to consider how to create more opportunities for all communities to take part in the clean energy revolution. This is especially important when you consider that some communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change and pollution because of living closer to refineries, rail yards, ports, transit corridors, dirty industries, and other sites that produce pollution from the use of fossil fuels. It’s difficult for anyone to know how to respond to the impact of climate change and what, if anything, they can do to support clean energy. Under-resourced communities especially need easier access to participate in renewable energy, but not everyone can go solar. Community Solar is considered a particularly important strategy for allowing low-income households to participate in the financial and environmental benefits of renewable energy.

Today, many households and businesses lack access to solar energy because they rent, live in multi-tenant buildings, have roofs that can’t host solar panels or face financial obstacles. Fortunately, if you want access to clean energy, it’s completely unnecessary to invest thousands of dollars to install rooftop solar. Why? Because community shared solar is easy to access, no matter who you are. Community Solar farms benefits all neighborhoods because it creates value and equity in the way it shares the benefits of solar electricity.

Community Solar dramatically expands access to solar energy

  • About three-quarters of households are effectively excluded from rooftop solar because they’re renters (one-third of households), because they live in multi-family dwellings and don’t own their roofs, because their roofs are shaded or face the wrong way, or because they don’t have the savings or credit rating for an initial investment of thousands of dollars.
  • Community Solar gardens help bridge the gap between those who can and those who can’t invest in rooftop solar panels.

The more Community Solar is allowed, the more people who can benefit from it.

  • Everyone has a right to a clean and healthy environment.
  • Increasingly, shared solar programs are helping low or moderate income households save money without any upfront investments.

Community Solar reduces all the emissions from fossil fuels.

  • Solar share programs get at the heart of the problem of carbon dioxide emissions. This is because solar electricity reduces CO2 emissions by displacing fossil fuel electricity and reduces our carbon footprint.
  • Displacing fossil fuels with solar electricity also reduces air pollutants such as the SOx, NOx and particulate matter that cause asthma, cancer, and heart disease.

Climate change and pollution threatens all of us, but especially people in social and environmental justice communities.

  • Climate change disproportionately affects those who experience socioeconomic inequalities.
  • Providing access to solar electricity that reduces CO2 emissions supports climate justice. Climate change produces heat waves that are especially dangerous to people without air conditioning. The flooding it causes are most threatening to homes in low-lying areas and floodplains.

The rapid development of Community Solar helps communities that have the most to gain from a cleaner, healthier environment. It’s time to expand the conversation around climate justice to ensure that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background are guaranteed protection from the worst effects of climate change by supporting local community solar farms. You vote with your dollars when choosing solar electricity.

Ampion is an advocate of social and environmental justice and works with the hope that someday, everyone will have easy access to the local clean energy that Community Solar offers.

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