It can cost between $10,000 to $25,000 to install a solar panel system on a home. And then there are the barriers beyond cost, like being a renter or having a roof that’s too small or shady for panels. These factors mean solar isn’t available to about half of all Americans, according to the Department of Energy. New York is among the top dozen solar-producing states in the U.S., but in 2014, less than 4 percent of solar installations benefited New York households with incomes below $40,000.
That could change if the community solar model catches on. Not only does community solar make renewable energy accessible to more people; proponents say that it has the potential to alleviate energy insecurity. Each month, one in three Americans struggles with choosing between paying their utility bill or for other basic necessities. With the right incentives, community solar can lower utility bills and give communities control over how they produce and consume energy.