Solar energy is a widely used alternative energy source that’s increasingly making its way into average households across the country. However the high initial setup cost makes it difficult for low-income families to move to solar energy, which essentially costs nothing if you take out the installation cost. California is going to lead the way to bring solar power to low-income households, the new project is going to provide them with free solar panels.

The project is going to be run by Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit based in Oakland. The idea is to install home solar arrays in disadvantaged neighborhoods by using the $14.7 million raised through the state’s cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The cap-and-trade system in California makes it obligatory for power plants, factories, oil refineries and other large businesses to buy credits for every ton of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gasses that they release.

Using the money raised by this system Grid Alternatives plans to install home solar arrays on more than 1,600 homes in California by the end of next year. Homeowners will be encouraged to make small contributions for the installation process which is otherwise free, they can choose to feed the installation crew or help out themselves.

Depending on where they live, these solar arrays are going to save most homeowners up to $1,000 per year in electricity. To qualify for this program applications have to live in a neighborhood that has been declared as disadvantaged by the state, they have to own their homes and must not make more than 80 percent of the median household income in their community.

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