Solar-Powered Cul de Sacs: Residential Investments Could Pay Off
Monday, July 26, 2021
MINNEAPOLIS -- The smoky air covering much of Minnesota this summer has placed renewed focus on the impacts of climate change.
A new report showed substantial federal investment in clean energy would help states combat these issues and enhance their economies.
Researchers behind the 30 Million Solar Homes Initiative said if the federal government were to help fund solar projects for one in four households around the U.S., it would result in 1.7 million new jobs.
Katie Kienbaum, senior researcher for the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and co-author of the report, said for Minnesota, that would mean 27,000 new jobs over the span of the investment.
"The jobs potential is really just huge from rooftop and community solar systems," Kienbaum explained. "It takes a lot more people to scramble on rooftops, put those solar panels up, versus building them in huge fields. And that would also happen in communities across the country."
She added there should be focus to ensure these are jobs with good wages that meet labor standards. Some unions have raised concerns about what's been offered to wind and solar installers. The report said Minnesota would see $900 million in electric-bill savings over a five-year span.
In a state like Minnesota, where homeowners have to crank up the heat during the winter, Kienbaum pointed out long-term energy savings could allow them to spend their money elsewhere.
"Spend more money on groceries, help pay for their children's education," Kienbaum outlined.
The campaign calls for $500 billion in federal investment for local solar and clean energy projects. Its policy package includes a goal to use 75% of those funds for clean energy that benefits marginalized communities.
The report also said nationwide, a solar program of this size would be comparable to closing 48 coal-fired power plants for a year, and lead to $69 billion dollars in energy savings over five years.
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