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The Uphill Battle to Get Solar Into D.C.'s Low-Income Households

Earlier this month, President Obama held up the city as model for bringing solar power to low-income families. He might have spoken a bit too soon.
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REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Earlier this month, when President Obama announced a new initiative to deliver solar power to low-income households, he listed a few cities he said were already on board. Among them was Washington, D.C., which the White House said would be launching a plan to invest up to $6 million in community solar for low-income residents.

The demand from households (and businesses) that want to generate their own electricity from renewable energy sources is rising rapidly. Correspondingly, the costs of acquiring solar equipment to meet that demand have dropped considerably. But solar costs are still out of reach for low-wage earners, and it’s even more difficult to access solar if you rent or live in public housing. To address that problem, community solar programs have been established across the country that allow non-homeowners to subscribe to a solar array system. The White House’s announcement earlier this month dealt mostly with bolstering and expanding the community solar network.