Maryland — The NAACP launched the Solar Equity Initiative in 2018 to increase solar installations in communities of color and to connect these communities to skills training for solar jobs, all supported by strengthened solar equity policies.
The Initiative is centred on the civil, economic and environmental justice rights connecting communities of color and low-income communities across the U.S. Now, this initiative has released a set of Equitable Solar Policy Principles to ensure internal alignment and develop a shared understanding of equitable solar policy.
These principles can assist advocates and policymakers at the local, state, and federal level to craft policy solutions that are holistic in nature and ensure benefits flow to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and other frontline communities.
“Low-income and communities of color have suffered disproportionate harm from the fossil fuel economy. The new clean energy economy is an opportunity to address past injustices, but only with intentional policy decisions such as those outlined in the Equitable Solar Policy Principles,” said Denise Abdul-Rahman National Field Organizer NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. “We envision a solar-powered future that invests in under-resourced communities, creates local, sustainable wealth, and adds to community resilience and a healthier future for all.”
The Equitable Solar Policy Principles is a living document that the Solar Equity Initiative will periodically revisit to best reflect its collective commitments. The coalition focused on transparency, ownership, and accountability in developing the Principles. The goal of the Principles is to address past, current and future impacts of pollution on frontline and BIPOC communities, while moving communities towards a more resilient and just future that takes into account all of their needs.
“Our goal in releasing the Equitable Solar Policy Principles is to create a baseline that policymakers and advocates can use together in developing and advancing solar policy,” said Melanie Santiago-Mosier, Chair of the Solar Equity Initiative Policy Committee and Managing Director, Access & Equity at Vote Solar. “Solar is a powerful clean energy solution that, if implemented correctly, can address the inequities of our current dirty energy system. Our aim is that by following these Principles we can ensure success.”
“If we want to build an equitable clean energy economy, it starts with the policies we support and prioritize,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Over the next decade, we have an incredible opportunity to expand access to solar and welcome hundreds of thousands of people to the solar workforce. The Solar Equity Initiative’s new policy principles will help us prioritize low-income and communities of color in clean energy legislation, and make sure equity is at the forefront of our future advocacy efforts.”
“The Equitable Solar Policy Principles seek to increase access to and ownership of solar energy in underserved and frontline communities,” said Daniel Bresette, executive director at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. “Such communities are not only in the greatest need of affordable energy, but they are also at the most risk from climate impacts. Increased access to affordable solar energy panels means lower energy bills, decreased carbon emissions, and a healthier environment for these communities.”
“Under the direction of the NAACP Solar Equity Initiative, coalition members across the solar industry have come together to design these Solar Equitable Policy Principals to raise the importance of equity when designing solar policy,” said Sean McGaughey, Director of Solar Project Operations at RE-volv. For far too long, underserved communities, who face the brunt of pollution and environmental racism have been left out on policy considerations. We must take the initiative to develop solar policies that provide access to solar for all and these principles can serve as a framework for policymakers.
“Sunrun is committed to increasing access to reliable, affordable and clean energy across the United States,” said Lynn Jurich, Sunrun’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder. “We believe that building an electrified network of solar and home batteries will continue to foster community resilience and create family-supporting job growth, especially in traditionally marginalized communities.”