Published last week in collaboration with the Initiative for Energy Justice and the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors, the report outlines the benefits of a proposal to offer solar power to 30-million homes in the US within the next five years, an idea ILSR has championed alongside 225 other organizations since February. ILSR is a group that promotes small business and local jobs around the United States.
The plan strives to increase access to affordable clean energy, build green jobs and lower residential carbon emissions through tangible investments in green incentives and aid. Extending the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC); increasing funding for energy assistance and weatherization programs; and building out a national solar marketplace to support net metering (in which community solar users receive bill deductions for the clean energy they offer the grid) are all part of this approach.
In all, the 30 Million Solar Homes project would cost $137-billion in government investments divided between federal agencies. It’s a hefty sum, but one that report author Katie Kienbaum, senior researcher at the ILSR’s Energy Democracy Initiative, says is necessary to make solar power ubiquitous nationwide. The up front investment would also pay for itself in the long term in savings on public health, utility debt, and unemployment. For example, it would reduce consumer utility bills across the country by $69-billion in total and generate 1.77-million solar job years (one job that lasts one year) in the process. (Kienbaum and co-author John Farrell, co-director of the Institute and director of the Energy Democracy Initiative, used state retail energy rates and standard estimates for per-megawatt solar job requirements to conduct these calculations.)
“One in four American households is an ambitious, but entirely achievable number,” Kienbaum said. “It’s on par with what countries like Australia have already deployed.”
Kienbaum and Farrell estimate that the 30 million Solar Homes plan would reduce residential greenhouse gas emissions by 191 million tons over the next five years, and by 83 million tons each year beyond that. Respectively, that’s the equivalent of taking 42 million cars off the road for a year, and keeping 18 million of them off the road permanently, the report notes.