Bernie Sanders Introduces Solar Energy Bill To Help Low Income Americans

Bernie Sanders solar energyOne in five American schoolchildren live below the federal poverty level. In Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage, one in three children are from poor households. 46.5 million people currently live in poverty in the United States, with 20.4 million living on an income that is half the level that designates the poverty threshold. For a family of 4, the current divide is $24,250 according to federal guidelines.


Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Low Income Solar Act of 2015 that would help offset the initial costs of switching to solar energy. In his press release below, Bernie Sanders outlined how this program would work along with the benefits to individuals and businesses who would qualify for the loans.

“While the cost of solar panels has gone down in recent years, it is still out of reach for millions of low-income families that need it the most,” said Sanders. “Families across this country struggle to pay electricity bills and access to solar energy can help reduce these costs.”

The Low Income Solar Act of 2015 was introduced on the same day the White House proposed an initiative to make solar power more accessible to households and businesses. The Sanders bill would provide $200 million in loans and grants through the Department of Energy to offset the upfront costs for solar arrays on community facilities, public housing and low-income family homes. These projects would be required to prioritize loans for woman- and minority-owned small businesses and set aside funding for developing solar arrays in Appalachia, Indian tribal lands and Alaskan native communities.

While low-income families are the hardest hit by rising utility prices, they are also the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the poor spend more than 60 percent of their income on basic necessities including electricity and food, compared to less than 45 percent for wealthy families. Helping low-income families use solar power addresses both of these issues.

“The scientific community tells us very clearly if we’re going to reverse climate change and the great dangers it poses for the planet we must move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy,” Sanders said. “We can achieve this goal, save families money and protect the planet for future generations.” (Source)

Not long ago, conservatives talked about solar energy as if it was a joke, or a novelty item for rich hippies and their stereotyped lifestyle. As solar panels have become cheaper in recent years, many people who previously scoffed at the idea have quietly switched to solar or have even gone into the business of selling the panels they once laughed at. Even some who reject climate change as some sort of liberal plot to destroy the economy have embraced solar energy because it saves them money, especially when you also get that sweet tax credit to help offset that cost.


Conventional energy costs are quite expensive and while wealthier Americans can afford the costs to install solar panels, lower-income individuals simply can’t. As an example of the cost of conventional energy, the average electric bill here in Louisiana during July is nearly $200, as well as in Mississippi which is also an incredibly poor state. If you can reduce or even eliminate a monthly electric bill, that’s money people on a tight budget can spend on other things, which is a potential boost to the local economy instead of some distant utility company.

Also, while some folks don’t care about the environmental aspect or refuse to accept climate change as a scientific fact, it’s worth pointing out that coal accounts for 39% of America’s electric supply. If we can reduce the amount of coal being burnt to create electricity, that would be a big help in cutting down on pollution as well. Of course, that isn’t going to fly well with the Koch brothers who, along with their political allies, have launched an assault on solar energy.

Please contact your U.S. Senators and ask them to support the Low Income Solar Act of 2015. This bill would help put more money in the pockets of the poorest Americans and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which works out to be a win for us all.



Comments

Facebook comments

  • Creeayshun Sighuntist

    I expect to start hearing about all of the “dangers” of solar energy from the brainless right wingers, as soon as Fox and Rush tell them what to think on the subject.

    • OMGface

      Sometimes, self protective cynicism is the way to go. I am working on that increasingly needed defense against the pain of what is unfolding.

    • I think that I have heard “bad” things about solar energy ever since it has been proposed. So I’m sure they already have a load of talking points in their bag of tricks.

  • Flat Banana

    Solar is definitely the way to go for future use, the majority of homeowners around my area lease their equipment from different companies. Which is $0 down (usually) but around $150 a month depending on the amount of panels etc. The largest issue now is for manufactures to find a way to keep their emissions and carbon foot print low and find a way to utilize non-precious metals or a sustainable resource to construct
    them.http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/11/141111-solar-panel-manufacturing-sustainability-ranking/

    • OMGface

      Bravo, Flat Banana!

    • $150/month is a pretty penny for people who are already struggling. In many places, it is cheaper for them just to stay with the electric power they already have. It would be great if something like the legislation proposed here would help with the costs of leasing as well.

      • RealistII

        Sadly, this Sanders proposal shows how far out of touch he is. Energy conservation programs would make more sense for the low income folks and have a better return. Solar isn’t going to compete with the grid in the Mid-West with it’s $0.035/KW grid.

    • RealistII

      $150/month is just nuts. I pay a rediculous rate of $0.15/kwh here in MN because of our wind generation and my bill still only averages about $65/month. I don’t see where solar for the home owner will ever be practical. For one, it gets really cold here and we get a fair amount of snow and ice. The panels lose about 1%/year in output under good conditions but I’d want to wait and see how they last in our bitter cold.

  • strayaway

    I’m all for solar energy but the thinking here is sort of cloudy. Why not instead retrofit all federal facilities possible with solar applications. If doing so saves money as the article implies, then the saved money could be used for other purposes. However, since the poor often do not own their own homes and would probably have a difficult time maintaining solar units, it might be a better idea to centralize solar units on the roofs of post offices, military bases, etc. and use the savings to improve the health benefits of disabled veterans. if there is money left over, shore up Medicare.

    • Good points… I’m not sure how many federal buildings (or state buildings for that matter) have any plans for solar. And I also wondered how many low income people own their homes and could make use of this credit.

  • Thunder Panus

    Global warming is a hoax.

    • Michael Drzyzga

      Doesn’t matter. Renewable is still the way to go. Improve the tech and drive down prices before gas prices rise more. Since oil is a finite resource, we’re guaranteed to run out. Scarcity drives up price. Competition drives it down. Solar is unlikely to drop significantly below oil while oil dominates. Instead just keep the difference as profit. If we make the change sooner, we can hopefully lock in cheaper prices long term.

      • OMGface

        High marks, important post, thank U…not to mention what fossil fuels have done to the future of this planet.

      • Michael Drzyzga

        Agreed. But that doesn’t seem to be convincing a substantial number of people. But their objections still don’t change what the smartest move is.

      • OMGface

        Sadly, you are correct, but not just the Fausts singularly invested in oil for simple greed….for me, even more pernicious: the blind slave/bible thumpers, climate change deniers obstructing a commitment to at least slow down what we know may already not be fixable. You know, the creationists and the replicants who promulgate hate and worse. Not sure what someone of you caliber is doing here, but pls know it makes me very happy.

    • OMGface

      Try to pray it away you worthless dunce.

      • RealistII

        Just like a Greenie: resort to name calling when they can’t defend their position with facts and logic. Maybe you should read a little on AGW before commenting. Stanford has a course on global warming online – it’s good place to start

      • NINJAfemale

        I could do 2,500 words referencing science on this right this second. the truth of it is incontrovertible. And, then another 750 on that people functioning under a willful delusion—including one
        they’ve been brainwashed into— can’t be reasoned with.

      • RealistII

        “…the truth of it is incontrovertible…” Yeah, just like Michael Mann and his hockey stick temperature chart is the real deal. And now NOAA has decided to fudge their temperature data to match their theories about global warming. It’s too bad you haven’t read more widely because you’d know there are some of the best minds in the field that aren’t Alarmists.

      • NINJAfemale

        You are an abject, terrifying IMBECILE. U think the formidable humans now meeting in Paris are all deluded?

      • RealistII

        Just like a typical Alarmist, you can’t debate the facts so you resort to name calling. The carbon option market is going to be worth hundreds of billions if the talks in Paris succeed in cutting deals. It’s all about the politics of making money and not doing the right thing by science. You shouldn’t be so naive.

      • NINJAfemale

        Debate THE FACTS? Facts are FACTS, and, in all of this, facts are incontrovertible SCIENCE, forget, easily observable……and, since we are already reaching 2 degrees, it may already be too late to stop what is already unfolding worldwide.

        None of this is COMBAT, you unalloyed dunce.

      • RealistII

        “…easily observable….” the warming of the earth today is not that hard to measure – no arguement there. But all the CO2 that’s generated by human activity is what percentage of the total being released? It’s relatively small and if you read on the ice core proxies being used, you’ll find no one has done the testing to verify their accuracy. And last, there is the problem with the CO2 levels VS the global temperature – CO2 levels always lag the temperature rise in the past.

      • RealistII

        The global temperature has been rising 1 C/century since the Little Ice Age. And that was before the industrial revolution. There’s more going on then just human caused warming.

      • NINJAfemale

        Sorry for being rude, it’s my time of the month again. I concur that GW is nothing but a money-grab.

      • RealistII

        Okay, so I caught at a bad time. But the causes of GW aren’t something we debate anyway. What’s important is that the globe is warming and it might be too late for mitigation – what’s left is adaptation. I would agree the Carbon Option Market could evolve into a money grab for hedge funds so it’s something to watch.

    • RealistII

      I would agree with you if I can add a slight modification: AWG is a hoax to the extent it isn’t a big enough effect. The climate has been warming since the time of Shakespeare at about 1C/century.

  • RealistII

    By the way, Sanders isn’t going anywhere. He’ll be like yesterday’s newspaper after the 2016 Primary.