5 U.S. Solar Regulations Solar Professionals Can Take Advantage Of
Harnessing solar energy in concentrated form has long been a human goal. Although solar technology existed since the 19th century, it was in the 1970s that it has received a substantial governmental support. From that time, vast sums of money have been given for the development of solar industry and today there are many organizations, laws, and regulations concerned with the production, use of the solar energy, and development of the solar industry that both ordinary users of solar energy professionals can take advantage of.
Solar Energy for Low-Income Families
There are regulations aimed at helping low-income families reduce their energy bills. According to the U.S. Census, low-income households suffer a disproportionate energy burden that is 3 times as high as for non-low-income families. Approximately 42% of U.S. households are low income and many of them rely on traditional, expensive heating fuels that lead to high energy expenses. Besides this, these low-income communities can face obstacles to accessing solar technologies that could help them lower their energy costs and make them more affordable. The goals of the Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator are to lower energy bills for communities with low income through a partnership between state and local governments and the U.S. Department of Energy. They have joined their efforts to make sure that low-income communities can benefit from renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency and to provide them with the opportunities to install and use solar technology that can lower their energy expenses. It has been estimated that this, on a long term, will lead to the greater popularity of solar energy and the overall expansion of solar industry, from which solar professionals and contractors can take many advantages.
Getting Funds for Going Solar
Appart from what has been mentioned above, there are other U.S. solar regulations whose goal is to facilitate the process of going solar for people by reducing the costs of it, which will ultimately lead to a larger number of people willing to install solar systems on their homes and to further expansion of solar industry. There are different financial options people can choose from when deciding to go solar such as solar loans that can lower up-front costs of installing solar systems. Monthly loan payments are smaller than typical energy bills, and this can help people save money from the very start. Some jurisdictions offer subsidized solar energy loans with below-market interest rates which makes solar energy even more affordable. Solar leases and PPAs allow people to host solar energy systems that are owned by solar companies and purchase back generated electricity. They can enter into an agreement that will allow them to have lower electricity bills without monthly loan payments. This also means that they will not have to put money down to go solar, and they will not be entitled to tax benefits as they will not own solar energy systems.
Strengthening the Reliability, Resilience, and Security of Electricity Grids
There are other regulations concerned with funding innovative cooperative research and development projects that can bring down the costs of solar electricity and improve the performance of solar technologies by enhancing the reliability and security of electricity grids. There are efforts and programs such as the SunShot federal government program that focuses on enabling the widespread deployment of reliable, cost-effective and safe solar energy on the electricity grid of the nation by addressing the associated regulatory requirements and technical challenges.
Solar Energy for Remote Areas
Since the landfall of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, municipalities and jurisdictions in the United States have been increasingly focused on the improvement of the electricity structure and enhancement of its resilience to the extreme events. There are some regulations concerned with this as well and renewable energy plays a critical role there. The integration of solar energy into remote electricity grids is not only cost-effective, but it can also increase the system resilience. Besides this, there are residential solar panels that can provide sufficient energy to power buildings in remote areas, thus eliminating the need to connect to the electrical grid and giving the opportunity to a larger number of remote households to install solar systems and use solar energy. With affordable and effective PV energy systems provided by solar professionals, people can have a reliable and inexpensive power in the most far-flung locations and use solar powered systems for appliances and lighting in remote homes, vacation cabins, or even for the needs of farms or businesses.
Using Solar Energy in Agriculture
Agriculture is considered to be an important part of the U.S. culture and economy and it plays one of the crucial roles in the distributed generation of solar energy and the development of the solar industry. Solar energy can be used for the improvement of agriculture and it has given some remarkable results so far. Namely, solar energy helps farmers stabilize their energy costs, decrease the degree of pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases, and eliminate their dependence on the electric grid infrastructure. The costs of maintenance of solar energy systems are low and the energy is free once the initial costs of systems are recovered through energy savings and subsidies. There are regulations and U.S Policies and programs that promote solar energy adoption and provide the opportunities for solar energy use in U.S. agriculture. Therefore, solar systems are now available to all farmers and ranchers in the United States and they can receive a financial support for installing solar energy from a number of sources such as federal, state and local government, etc. Some of the financing options for installing a solar system include commercial bank loans, cash, a mortgage or home equity loan, a limited partnership, vendor financing, a lease, an energy savings performance contract, etc.
*United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Chief Economist, Office of Energy Policy and New Uses – Solar Energy Use in U.S. Agriculture Overwiev and Policy Issues by Irene M. Xiarchos and Brian Vick
*Solar in Remote Applications in the U.S.: Challenges & Implications for Local Solar Policy by Toby Couture, Jolanta Jasina, Chad Laurent, Kathryn Wright, Wilson Rickerson, and Henry Barrett from Meister Consultants Group, Inc.
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