Rooftop solar is a key solution for generating local renewable energy and helping families cut down on their energy bills, but if you live in an apartment or rent your home, installing solar panels is far less feasible. And that’s without even considering the substantial cost of installation. Solar share programs are helping to address this disparity, and in one New York City neighborhood, the program is going above and beyond to deliver benefits to participating residents.
In the neighborhood of Crown Heights, nearly 40 percent of low-income households do not have internet access, but a new initiative is using community solar to provide renewable energy and ubiquitous internet access.
Workforce Housing Group, an affordable housing development, used a loan from NY Green Bank to install community solar panels on 18 buildings. The energy generated from these panels will be enough to pay back the loan and offer free high-speed broadband to 22 buildings.
Despite efforts to expand solar access with rebates and loan programs, the majority of private solar investments still overwhelmingly come from wealthy homeowners. Workforce Housing Group’s initiative is a perfect example of how public resources can be mobilized to offer solar to a city’s most vulnerable residents and even use excess profits to offer other critical services, like WiFi access. What’s more, the program helps close the digital divide so residents have full access to services like online education and bill payment.