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.
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."
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.
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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.
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