When we talk about solar becoming more mainstream, and accessible to a wider market, it can sometimes feel a little abstract. Its been shown that the price of solar is constantly declining, but what does this actually mean for the market? Previously, a report from Maryland was released that shows solar has penetrated all levels of the market there, but who’s to say this is not a fluke or specific to Maryland’s policies?
A new report conducted by New England Clean Energy has just surfaced, showing that most people going solar in Massachusetts have household incomes (HHI) of less than $150,000. Nearly 250 customers responded to the Hudson-based installer’s survey on HHI. The results show that people purchasing solar electricity systems, with or without financing, cross all income brackets — but 67% earn less than $150,000 per household.
A full 35% reported earning less than $100,000 a year, and 10% have HHI under $50,000. Surprisingly, only 3% earn $200,000 or higher.
Comparing results year by year, from prior to 2010 through 2014, shows that between 59% and 78% of those going solar each year had HHI of less than $150,000.
“Anti-solar forces in Arizona and other states are claiming solar policies — in particular net metering, which compensates solar owners for their production at retail — benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. This argument assumes only the rich can install solar,” said Mark Durrenberger, president of New England Clean Energy.
“We knew anecdotally that plenty of middle-class families and retirees on fixed incomes were going solar. Now, we have data confirming that people of all income brackets are installing solar to save, and make, money. In states with progressive solar policies, like Massachusetts, solar is accessible to virtually anyone with decent credit. Even those without the necessary credit rating, and those with bad roofs or who rent, can access solar today, through community solar gardens and virtual net metering,” Durrenberger said.
“Furthermore, the claim that net metering amounts to a subsidy of solar owners by non-solar owners doesn’t take into account the incredible value solar energy provides to individuals, communities, our economy, our environment, and our society. By lowering carbon emissions, solar improves air quality and thus can help reduce healthcare costs. Solar creates local jobs and spurs small business growth. It stabilizes regional energy costs by reducing dependence on imported energy sources. Finally, solar benefits utilities in ways just starting to be quantified. For example, solar increases fuel diversity, puts power generation close to load centers, reduces or eliminates bottlenecks in the grid, and reduces or eliminates utilities’ need to build expensive new infrastructure,” Durrenberger said.