Rooftop solar panels generate clean power and help residents save money on their utility bills. But for many people, the up-front costs of installing solar put it out of reach.

“It’s almost impossible for people in our community to be able to get financed for a project like that,” says Kristel Porter, a resident of North Minneapolis, and founder of MN Renewable Now.

The organization has launched an effort to hire and train local workers to install solar on 24 properties in North Minneapolis, a primarily low-income, Black community.

To pay for the solar, the project relies on investors, incentive programs, and neighborhood revitalization funds.

MN Renewable Now and its partners will retain ownership of the solar systems for six years. During that time, they’ll sell the power to the homeowner at a discount and use the money to repay investors. Then they’ll transfer ownership of the solar system to the resident.

“So in six years, they have a solar array that they own on top of their home,” Porter says. “And now they are selling that energy back to the utility company.”

She says the approach can be replicated, so more communities can benefit from the renewable energy boom.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media