Solar for All: Low Income Access to Solar Power in Massachusetts and Connecticut

First name: 
Last name: 
Class Year: 
Jeffrey ParK
Essay Abstract: 
This paper examines the movement to expand access to solar energy to low-income individuals, and the influence of environmental justice methodologies on organizations doing solar access work. Since 2014, there has been a huge uptick in attention on the issue of low and moderate income (LMI) inclusion in solar. Dozens of state agencies, environmental organizations, energy advocacy groups, and local institutions have written reports on the importance of LMI solar access, and guidelines for financing and building solar projects for members of the low- and moderate-income community. Despite this wave of attention, largely funded by the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, actual implementation of these guidelines has been slow and variable across different states, and little formal research has been done on the trend and its implications for renewable energy adoption. In this paper, the trend of solar access is analyzed specifically in Connecticut and Massachusetts, two states that have been moderately successful in the implementation of solar policy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with solar developers and state agencies, and are analyzed to consider how solar access efforts utilize environmental justice theories impact the broader energy economy.