By Nina DeSilva
This last year has been a turbulent one for the solar industry, between new tariffs and threats to federal funding for energy innovation programs.
Solar has been through its share of challenges, though, and the industry is used to weathering storms like these. Moreover, nearly nine out of every ten Americans now support increasing our solar output—but while it may seem fair to expect our leaders to follow suit and, at the very least, create a level playing field for solar, U.S. action on clean energy still lags behind popular will.
With all that's going on, you're not alone if you find yourself asking: what can the average person do to support local clean energy?
One thing we’ve learned in the years we’ve been working to support inclusive solar energy is that there isn’t a community in America that lacks the energy and talent to drive impactful, local change.
Here are some of the best ways to build power and make a difference in your community:
1. Stand with local organizations building the movement for inclusive clean energy.
This might be the question closest to the core of our own mission: what if we could unite all of the individual households that have installed solar, joined a community solar garden, or simply believe that solar is the right choice for our energy future? Build a national movement for inclusive, clean energy? That’s the work we do every day as we work to build community-level support for community solar and policies that incentivize the solar industry to address the 80 percent of American households who can’t access solar energy.
It’s also the work of thousands of community-based organizations and groups that promote renewable energy in every state—for example, in Otsego County, NY alone, groups like Otsego 2000, OCCA (Otsego County Conservation Association), and Sustainable Otsego are making their communities more sustainable. Seek out local orgs in your community and find out how you can make an impact, be it through advocacy, fundraising, or organizational work.
2. Go solar.
What better way to show your support for solar energy than to raise your hand and solarize your energy bill? Rooftop solar may make the most sense for your household financially, or you may prefer to enroll in a local community solar garden and avoid the upfront cost and rooftop installation.
3. Vote for Solar.
The most important solar victories in the past decade have all happened at a local and sates levels, where the voices of everyday citizens hold real sway. Asking your representatives about their environmental views and voting for candidates that support solar energy are two ways of making your views known and pushing representatives to take action
4. Support local businesses that use solar energy.
Can you imagine Apple or Microsoft on a path to 100 percent renewable energy even ten years ago? Corporate giants’ climate action is proof that support for the energy transition is growing. But it is not only the upper level businesses that are switching to clean energy. Solar panels can now be seen atop car repair shops and other small businesses—helping them to avoid the impact of fluctuating energy demand prices.
Find the greenest local businesses. When you can, buy from the most sustainable local businesses and don’t hesitate to let your local shops know that you support their decision to support clean energy.
5. Inform your friends and neighbors about their solar options.
A recent study out of Yale showed that solar is contagious: if you support solar by installing it on your roof, your neighbors are more likely to do the same. You can inspire your neighbors to take action! Let them know what you’ve been doing to support solar energy, help them understand their options, and above all, share your enthusiasm for a future powered by clean energy.
Thanks to local organizations, programs like community solar, and people like you, supporting clean energy is easier than ever before. And we’re here to help—if you’re interested in getting involved, click here to get in touch, and we’ll do what we can to support you taking action in your community.