Research Shows Solar Energy Owners Cross All Income Brackets

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Most people going solar in Massachusetts have household incomes (HHI) of less than$150,000, according to a survey conducted by New England Clean Energy, president Mark Durrenberger. 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 predominantly (67 percent) earn less than $150,000 per household.

A full 35 percent reported earning less than $100,000 a year. Ten percent have HHI under $50,000, and 13 percent earn $200,000 or higher.

Comparing results year by year, from prior to 2010 through 2014, shows that between 59 percent and 78 percent 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.

“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, likeMassachusetts, 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.

“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 bottle-necks in the grid, and reduces or eliminates utilities’ need to build expensive new infrastructure,” Durrenberger said.

New England Clean Energy’s anonymous, online survey of 460 customers was conducted between October 23 and 29. Of those contacted, 244 completed the survey.

 

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.