A solar equity program has launched in Delaware, to provide solar panels for the homes of low-income residents.

Low income households spend more on energy, as a percentage of their income, than high-income households. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, that percentage can be three times as high. They are precisely those who need low-cost renewable options like solar panels most, but can rarely afford the cost of set-up. The federal solar Investment Tax Credit, which allows you to credit over a quarter of the cost of a solar installation as a tax payment, doesn’t help those who can’t afford the installment anyway.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) launched a program at the start of this month to try to get solar power available to more homes. It does so by two means.

For low-income households, the solar equity program will provide installations up to 4 kilowatts free with waivers. For those who earn a little more but still couldn’t pay for an installation themselves, especially those with poor credit, the program will cover 70 percent of the installation of a system up to 6 kilowatts. For reference, the average American household uses 11,000 kilowatt-hours a year, or approximately as much power as a 6kwh solar system could generate assuming 5 sun hours a day and proper orientation.

Households qualify as low-income for this program if they earn less than $46k a year. Moderate-income is defined as the median income in individual Delaware counties. Any resident approved for the program will also get their homes weatherized at no cost, to increase their energy efficiency and get the most of their new solar system

“This is a chance for us to give people homes that reduce their electric bills from the energy-efficiency side as well as the renewable-energy side,” said Rob Underwood, energy programs administrator at DNREC.

Photo: Shutterstock