Solar Power and Affordable Housing

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View of south facing solar panel installation
View of south facing solar panel installation

Sometimes new technologies are first available exclusively to the wealthiest. It looks like in the case of solar we may have a different ballgame. This past summer, the Obama Administration declared measures to promote solar power for low income housing. The government intends to connect local housing authorities to over $520 million in capital from foundations, local governments and social impact investors to help facilitate low income solar installations, according to CNN Money.

Additionally, the measures will allocate money for AmeriCorps workers to install solar panels in low-income neighborhoods. Hey, there’s an idea, putting people to work to create a clean energy infrastructure.

Ultimately, Obama’s plan is to triple the amount of solar power on low income housing, creating enough solar electricity to power around 50,000 homes.

Security from Solar

It is becoming well known that solar is becoming cheaper than fossil fuel energies and you would have to be living under a rock to deny that a sustainable or even a feasible future depends upon clean energies and a healthy environment. Recently it’s been brought to light how solar also increases security and resiliency to homes, and especially to affordable housing projects, which face the most dangerous conditions during power crises.

This recent study concludes that the most cost effective path is to install solar on affordable housing units. Why? Because lowered costs of installation and money saved in the short run make solar the most economical route, but further still, and this is a main point of the study, further costs in both human lives and economic terms, will be diminished by solar installations because in times of crisis the solar can be used for things like water pumps, lighting, fire alarms, elevators, and heating and cooling.

With affordable housing, and any other housing really, we want security. Solar power enable the people to let go of worries and concerns by guaranteeing that power will be available whenever it is needed. Fossil fuel systems depend on a centralized grid. Power from coal burning factories  comes from somewhere far away, and then the energy is distributed by a centralized energy company through a precarious system of wires on wooden poles. In the 21st century, we can do better than this.

It is time to rethink what security means. Having immediate access to the means of life’s necessities within one’s household or community seems to be a much better bet for security than what we’ve seen in the past.

Economical, ecological, and increased security; solar hits home on these three essential aspects of what an energy source should be in the 21st century.


–Daniel White