Senate bill 3305 will allow for increased equitable access to clean energy in NJ by meaningfully eliminating a major barrier to low- and moderate-income (LMI) participation in community solar projects, and we eagerly anticipate its expedient passage.
Community solar is a powerful tool to expand equitable access to the benefits of solar regardless of income level or housing type, and to provide every New Jerseyan the opportunity to choose local, reliable, and cost-effective clean energy solutions. LMI communities, especially Indigenous communities and communities of color, face disproportionately high utility bills and exposure to pollution from fossil fuels, often with serious impacts on health and wellbeing. These inequities are further exacerbated by climate-induced extreme weather, worsened by every day we delay the transition to 100% clean energy.
While LMI communities stand to benefit the most from the rate savings and public health benefits of community solar, the barriers they face to participation can often be prohibitive. In order to qualify for low-income community solar, LMI subscribers must produce documentation of their income – a process that can be onerous, lead to feelings of embarrassment, and decrease overall adoption. If passed, S3305 would lead to the elimination of this barrier to participation by allowing LMI residents to self-attest their income on community solar applications as an acceptable income verification method. There is no place in our advocacy or in our movements for gatekeeping clean energy, nor for requiring our neighbors to exhaustively document their struggles in order to receive support.