By definition, most of us are in the 99%. Some of us may even be in that mythical 47%. But there’s another group that many of us are in, without even being aware of it: the 75%. That’s the estimated number of people who can’t get solar on their roof.
It’s clear that sharing can improve our lives, and that we can save or make money by sharing. That plus the significant social and environmental benefits are combining to make sharing a new way of life for many.
Many claims are being made these days that we’re at the tipping point for solar. The McKinsey report Solar Power: Darkest Before Dawn attributes this largely to lower prices: not only have solar costs plummeted in the last two years, but the cost of commercial-scale systems is already competitive — and for residential customers, leases have made solar much more affordable.
We have enough solar resources in the United States to power the whole country many times over. And yet, most of us are still not getting our power from the sun. Even with leases making solar more affordable for more people, many others are still left out of the equation — including low-income families, renters, and nonprofits.
A big thanks to over 100 friends and family members who sponsored me for the 2012 San Francisco Bay Area Solarthon! Thanks to your help, I was the top individual fundraiser for the third year in a row and broke my own record at a fab $4,800! Excuse all the exclamation marks, but it’s exciting to me.
I’m organizing an exciting event that’s coming up in late May — the San Francisco Community Solar Confluence. It’s part of a series of “confluences” presented by the Solar Gardens Institute.
People have been talking for quite a while about grid parity for solar power, the point at which solar becomes as affordable as power purchased from the grid, where it may come from sources such as coal. While we waited for grid parity, solar was still becoming attractive: rebates, tax incentives, and leasing options made it possible to start saving money in fewer years, in some cases right away.
Over a year ago, I began my quest to solarize my condo complex. I’m still working on that — but even if (I mean, when!) we manage to get solar for the common electricity and hot water, there’s not enough room on the roof to power all the units. So what do we do? In my research, I’ve come across a number of promising community solar options that can help us all participate in solar power.
Have you ever thought about going solar? Maybe you rent, live in a condo, can’t afford solar, have a shaded roof, or plan to move soon.
Some states are now making it possible to go solar even in these situations. In those states, people can subscribe to solar power from a common array called a solar garden, supplying their homes through the existing power grid. Next year, a bill will be before the legislature in California to make this possible here. Please urge your representative to vote for SB 843, which would enable solar gardens to happen in California.
Any regular visitor to this blog has read more than once about the GRID Alternatives Solarthon. After participating in this “solar barn-raising” last year, I was hooked. And that’s not surprising, since the event combines two of my favorite things: solar power and community. It’s a celebration of the work GRID does all year, and it provides an inspiring example of what people can achieve together.