For a while, it seemed like any house that had solar panels on its roof was in a gated community with a few expensive cars in the driveway and a pool in the backyard. But as with any type of technology, the longer it's around and the more it's perfected, the less expensive and more readily available it becomes. Solar panels for residential homes seem to follow that exact trajectory as the cost of installing a solar electric system has dropped by half since 2010.
So, the growth seen in the residential solar market in California is not occurring in areas with household incomes above $100,000 as one may expect, but, instead, it is happening in areas with median household incomes of $70,000 or less. In fact, only 6 percent of installations in California occurred in neighborhoods with median incomes above $100,000, the Huffington Post reports.
Part of the boom in these lower-income markets is due to policies and financing mechanisms meant to extend the reach of the market and make renewable energy sources possible for more people to obtain.
Thanks to net metering policies, many people are able to save some money by selling the excess power generated by the solar panels back to the grid in exchange for credits and discounts on the electricity they get from the grid when the sun isn’t out. There are also numerous tax credits and rebates available depending on which state the homeowners live in.
Despite policies working to help lower income individuals gain access to solar energy, there are still barriers. Sometimes a new roof is needed before panels can be installed, which can be very expensive and require money the homeowners do not have.
The amount of people using solar energy to help power their homes is increasing and so are the policies attempting to bring this renewable energy to as many people as possible, regardless of income level.