How the Biden administration is making solar power more accessible to tenants
The exploitation of renewable energies such as solar energy is no longer reserved for owners. Renters can also get into the game.
If you’re interested in solar power but don’t own a home, experts say community solar power may be the answer. “Your best bet is to tap into some kind of community offsite solar generation – subscribe to a network,” says Alan Robertson, general manager of solar development for BlueWave, a solar development and energy storage company.
Like rooftop solar panels, community solar programs, which allow customers to purchase cheaper power from nearby solar farms, allow you to lower your home energy bills, but without the high upfront cost. installation of solar panels. And since tenants typically can’t make the decision about rooftop solar, community solar is a way for anyone to choose renewable energy — and the savings that come with it.
The benefits of community solar energy are attracting public attention. On Thursday, the US Department of Energy, or DOE, announced efforts to expand the network of community solar projects across the country and increase access to clean renewable energy for more people, including tenants, under the Biden administration’s Invest in America program.
“Making sure every community has access to the benefits of affordable clean energy resources like solar is key to President Biden’s vision for a clean and equitable energy future,” the U.S. Energy Secretary said Thursday. , Jennifer M. Granholm, in a press release. “With today’s announcements, the DOE is providing an exciting new set of tools and significant assistance to support the deployment of solar energy across the country so that all communities can enjoy the economic and essential benefits for public health that accompany the deployment of renewable energies.”
As part of this initiative, the DOE’s National Community Solar Partnership selected 25 teams for a $10 million Community Power Accelerator Prize. The competition will strive to promote and fund community solar projects across the country.
Alternatives to rooftop solar, such as community solar programs, portable solar panels, or renewable energy credits – or RECs – are all cheaper and easier ways to participate in the renewable energy revolution. . If you’re interested in solar power but can’t afford the expensive rooftop investment or are renting out your house or apartment, here’s what you need to know to get involved.
Solar options for rental homes or apartments
Although landlords may have rules about what you can do with a home you rent, using solar power through one of the options below may be possible.
Make sure your apartment complex or landlord will allow you to use these options and that there are no rules prohibiting solar power.
There are locally built large-scale solar farms that power communities. Community solar power allows people to buy cheaper solar power from a solar farm without installing a complete solar system at home. You can pay for community solar power through subscriptions and, in some cases, through an existing utility company.
“It’s the most commercially available and it’s been tested, proven and true. It works and it’s a great way to contribute, support the solar industry and save money on your utility bill. ‘electricity,’ says Robertson.
- Solar easily accessible through community projects.
- Instant savings on your electricity bill.
- Option for people who cannot put panels on their roofs.
- Participation in clean energy.
- Not many community solar projects available (yet).
- Hard to find a community solar project.
- The savings are not as high as if you had your own system.
Portable solar panel system
Portable solar systems can be an efficient way to use solar power without the cost of installing solar power in a home, especially a home that you don’t own. Portable solar systems are mobile and can be easily installed. They can help you save some money and can be taken with you if you decide to leave your home.
- Easier to set up than having solar power installed.
- Can help offset electricity costs.
- This system may qualify for the 30% federal tax credit. (Check with a tax professional.)
- Small enough that you can take it anywhere with you.
- Produces less energy than a ground or rooftop solar system.
- Need to use the grid for most of your energy.
- Inverters and storage systems for portable solar systems can be expensive.
Buy renewable energy certificates
The great part about Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs, is that they allow anyone to join the clean energy movement without needing to purchase solar panels. RECs represent one megawatt-hour of renewable energy and can be purchased from retailers and utility companies. They cost more if you don’t have solar panels. Owners of rooftop solar systems can sell RECs where markets exist to help offset their utility costs. Tenants who do not own signs can only purchase them.
- These certificates allow you to invest in clean energy without installing solar panels.
- Renewable energy certificates can be tracked and recorded.
- It can take a lot of work to figure out where to buy renewable energy certificates.
- Some RECs can be expensive, depending on where you live.
- You get clean energy but at an additional cost.
Traditional solar panels
You can consider living in the house you are renting out long term. In this case, you could talk to your landlord and pay for the full solar power installation. It could be a big investment, but one that will save you more money over time.
- Reduces your carbon footprint.
- Saves you on electricity costs over time.
- You’re paying for a system that you can’t take with you if you leave.
- It can be expensive to purchase and install a complete solar system, especially for a home that you don’t own.
- You’re paying for a system that the home owner might not want to buy if you leave.
- Panels difficult to transfer.
Is it worth going solar if you don’t own a house?
The simple answer is: it depends. “Tenants certainly have options – there is value in community solar power. It’s a great way to directly participate in and support solar power and get the direct benefits of solar power, which is a reduced electric bill,” says Robertson.
Even if you don’t own your home or rent an apartment, you have a number of options to choose from. See which option is right for you and make sure your landlord or apartment complex allows it.
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