Vermont’s Plans to Make Solar More Accessible

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As we reported yesterday, the White House Initiative to increase access to solar, renewables, and energy efficiency for low- and moderate-income communities includes commitments from individual states as well. The Vermont Public Service Department has made such a commitment. At the same time, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I) introduced legislation that builds on this sweeping program.

The Vermont Public Service Department announced a statewide community solar program to be launched at a future date. Customers will be eligible for an interest rate buy-down fund supported by the Department of Energy’s (DOE)  Rooftop Solar Challenge II. The state is also creating tools to improve access to solar for public groups.

Senator Sanders introduced an additional solar initiative to the senate yesterday. The Low Income Solar Act of 2015 would provide an additional $200 million in loans and grants through the DOE for the upfront costs of solar arrays on community facilities, public housing, and low-income family homes. The projects covered under this program would prioritize loans for woman- and minority-owned small businesses. Funds would also be reserved for developing solar arrays in Appalachia, Indian tribal lands, and Alaskan native communities.

“The scientific community tells us very clearly if we’re going to reverse climate change and the great dangers it poses for the planet we must move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy,” Sanders said. “We can achieve this goal, save families money and protect the planet for future generations.”

Stay tuned for additional coverage of the White House Solar Initiative