Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Middle-Class Homeowners Biggest Buyers of Rooftop Solar

Business
Middle-Class Homeowners Biggest Buyers of Rooftop Solar

If you thought there was financial exclusivity in installing residential rooftop solar panels, think again.

Households with middle-class income—$40,000 to $90,000—are adding panels to their roofs more frequently than any segment, according to a report from the Center for American Progress (CAP).

"Middle-class homeowners are overwhelmingly taking advantage of rooftop solar," said Mari Hernandez, a research associate at CAP told ClimateWire. "It really is becoming more of a middle-class tool and a middle-class energy resource."

That's been especially true of residents in Arizona, California and New Jersey, the three states with the most growth in solar-panel installation from 2011 to 2012. While CAP's report centers on residents in those states, the educational institute says its findings are aligned with trends around the country.

Residents who made solar installations in Arizona, California and New Jersey are represented in this graph by utilities and organizations in their service areas that track solar info: Arizona Public Service (APS), California Solar Initiative (CSI) and New Jersey's Clean Energy Program (NJCEP). Graphic credit: Center for American Progress

The report shows that the average income of those getting the installations is far from the high end of the middle-class range. Median income for residents in Arizona and California was $40,000 to $50,000, and $30,000 to $40,000 in New Jersey. 

Since 2000, U.S. residents installed more than 1,460 megawatts (MW) of solar energy on the roofs of their homes. More than 80 percent of that capacity was added in the last four years. They installed 488 MW in 2012—a 62-percent increase over 2011 installations and almost double the capacity added in 2010.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) of Northern California reported the highest number of rooftop solar customers in the country, with more than 95,000 as of September. That figure has been growing by about 1,800 each month.

"Installation costs have dropped," said David Eisenhauer, a PG&E spokesman. "We're really encouraged to see more and more people installing rooftop solar across all income levels.

"We definitely agree that rooftop solar's come of age."

 

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

Trending

A rare North Atlantic right whale is seen off Cape Cod Bay on April 14, 2019 near Provincetown, Massachusetts. Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images

An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Sprinklers irrigate a field of onions near a Castilian village in Spain. According to a new study, the average farm size in the EU has almost doubled since the 1960s. miguelangelortega / Moment / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

A new report released Tuesday details the "shocking" state of global land equality, saying the problem is worse than thought, rising, and "cannot be ignored."

Read More Show Less
Members of the San Carlos Apache Nation protest to protect parts of Oak Flat from a copper mining company on July 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

In yet another attack on the environment before leaving office, the Trump administration is seeking to transfer ownership of San Carlos Apache holy ground in Oak Flat, Arizona, to a copper mining company.

Read More Show Less