California Is Giving Away FREE Solar Panels To Its Poorest Residents

Credit: GRID Alternatives

Many are inspired to reduce their carbon footprint and implement sustainable technologies, but the cost of such luxuries are a major deterrent for many middle-class and lower-income families.

Thanks to legislation introduced by Senator Kevin de León, however, soon some of California’s poorest residents will receive solar technology for free!

The Oakland-based non-profit GRID Alternatives intends on giving away 1,600 free solar panels to the residents in the lowest economic class in California by 2016.

The initiative was launched after funds were gathered under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GCRF), the state’s cap-and-trade program designed to discourage carbon dioxide emissions.

As GRID reports: “If it performs as expected, the 2.5 kW solar electric system will save Rivera $818 in the first year and $22,800 over its 30-year lifetime.”

And for residents like Rivera, free solar may help expand his budget to care for other concerns:

“We hope the savings will help defray some of my medical costs. When you have a budget like ours, which is stretched just about as far as you can go, it makes a big difference.”


Many environmentalists are critical of cap-and-trade programs because they allow polluters to pay for credits to exceed roundhouse gas emission limits, but this program should be celebrated for what it is. The funds will not only improve the lives of the state’s poorest citizens, who must live in disadvantaged neighborhoods with 80% below the medium income level to qualify, but greenhouse gas emissions will be offset by installing clean energy systems.

Shared Senator de León at the installation at Rivera’s home, “I introduced SB 535 in 2011 to ensure that our disproportionately impacted communities benefit from investments in clean energy. These investments will bring energy savings, quality jobs, and environmental benefits where they are needed most.”

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