Giving Compass' Take:

• Lacey Shaver and Ryan Shea explain why programs are needed to overcome the barriers to rooftop solar that communities of color face. 

• What role can you play in helping communities of color access environmentally and financially sound technology? 

• Learn how air pollution harms communities of color disproportionally

Communities of color have been shown to have a 24–27 percent higher energy burden than White Americans when controlling across income levels, and low-income residents experience an energy burden up to three times higher than high-income residents.

Rooftop solar has the potential to reduce energy burden in communities of color, but it has not yet lived up to its potential due to systemic barriers: lack of solar education and outreach; financial challenges such as lower income and access to credit; and issues related to home ownership, such as lower ownership rates or roof condition.

Local governments can play a pivotal role in expanding access to solar for these communities by developing programs that address these systemic barriers and helping to bring the benefits of clean energy to the communities that need them the most. One useful program that local governments can consider is a "Solarize," or community bulk-purchasing, campaign, which has been shown to reduce solar costs and address marketing and outreach barriers to solar.

Cities can take these programs to a new level by partnering with community groups to focus outreach in communities of color and collaborating with financial institutions to develop solutions for low-and moderate-income (LMI) residents.

Solar marketing and education provide essential exposure to the many benefits of solar and are necessary for increased and persistent solar adoption in any community. Unfortunately, this outreach and local solar education have not reached all communities equally.

The top barrier to installing residential solar is typically financial, regardless of income or race. Solarize campaigns have shown to help lessen these financial barriers by reducing solar costs by about 20 percent. These cost savings result from removing solar company costs for customer marketing and using economies of scale. The cost and time savings with this simplified process can be even more prevalent in jurisdictions that streamline solar permitting given the high volume of installations that come with Solarize campaigns.

While this discount has been shown to be a leading factor to participate in Solarize campaigns at every income level, these savings alone do not solve the compounding issues of overall cost and creditworthiness facing communities of color.

Read the full article about rooftoop solar in communities of color by Lacey Shaver and Ryan Shea at GreenBiz.