Affordable housing units with solar panels
Multifamily affordable housing with solar in National City, CA. (Photo source: Everyday Energy)

Renters in affordable housing rarely get to reap the energy- and cost-saving benefits of solar panels. If landlords do install solar, they often use the energy for areas like lobbies and parking lots, and the savings are not passed along to tenants. But new legislation in California aims to change that.

Scott Sarem is CEO of solar provider “Everyday Energy”. He helped design the Multifamily Affordable Housing Solar Roofs Program. The legislation took effect last year.

Sarem: “The purpose of it is to provide affordable housing owners with a rebate that will encourage them to place tenant-benefitting solar on their property so that low-income tenants can participate in the green economy and get a lower electric bill.”

Revenue from California’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program will fund the initiative. To provide solar subsidies for affordable housing complexes, the state has committed up to one hundred million dollars a year for the next four to ten years.

Sarem: “I think it’s extremely important to come up with policies that provide enough of an incentive for an owner to act so that the tenants can benefit.”

Those benefits will likely reach low-income renters in over 200,000 units.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Eileen Mignoni is a South Florida-based visual journalist who has been working on stories about science, the environment, and energy for nearly 10 years. In addition to her work at Yale Climate Connections,...