Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday introduced legislation to make solar energy more accessible to low-income families.
“While the cost of solar panels has gone down in recent years, it is still out of reach for millions of low-income families that need it the most,” said Sanders. “Families across this country struggle to pay electricity bills and access to solar energy can help reduce these costs.”
The Low Income Solar Act of 2015 was introduced on the same day the White House proposed an initiative to make solar power more accessible to households and businesses. The Sanders bill would provide $200 million in loans and grants through the Department of Energy to offset the upfront costs for solar arrays on community facilities, public housing and low-income family homes. These projects would be required to prioritize loans for woman- and minority-owned small businesses and set aside funding for developing solar arrays in Appalachia, Indian tribal lands and Alaskan native communities.
While low-income families are the hardest hit by rising utility prices, they are also the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the poor spend more than 60 percent of their income on basic necessities including electricity and food, compared to less than 45 percent for wealthy families. Helping low-income families use solar power addresses both of these issues.
“The scientific community tells us very clearly if we're going to reverse climate change and the great dangers it poses for the planet we must move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy,” Sanders said. “We can achieve this goal, save families money and protect the planet for future generations.”
To read a summary of the bill, click here.
To read the bill, click here.