California Families Get Free Solar Thanks to Cap-And-Trade

1600 lower income families will be outfitted with solar by the end of next year thanks to California’s cap-and-trade program. 

10% of the money raised in the program is funneled into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for projects that reduce greenhouse gases in the state or that improve the environment in low income neighborhoods. 

Non-profit GRID Alternatives, which is coordinating the solar installations, was awarded $14.7 million for the next two years. Local manufacturers donate the equipment, job-training programs provide the installers and homeowners either help with the installation or feed the crew.

California’s cap-and-trade program, called the Western Climate Initiative now that Quebec and Ontario have joined – has raised $1.6 billion so far, with another $1 billion in this week’s quarterly auction. The program is far more successful in raising revenue than anyone expected.

California Western Climate Initiative

Since 2007, SunPower has donated about $2 million in  equipment and cash from its foundation to support GRID Alternatives’ work. A new investment is for the group’s new high school education program.

Besides donating solar panels, SunEdison is investing in GRID’s programs that foster greater diversity in the solar industry. The company donated $1.2 million to launch the Women in Solar Initiative, and is following up with $5 million to expand that and launch the RISE initiative, which focuses on racial and ethnic diversity.

Read our article, How California Will Spend the $5 Billion a Year From Cap-and-Trade.

Natural Gas versus Renewables Still An Issue

Last week, California approved a spanking new natural gas power plant to replace the old Carlsbad power plant built in the 1950s. At $2.2 billion, people are wondering why the state didn’t install a whole lot more renewable energy instead.

The new plant is necessary since the San Onofre nuclear plant closed in 2013. San Diego Gas & Electric, which is buying all the power, says natural gas is still needed to fill in gaps left by solar and wind energy.

Also interesting is that NRG Energy is building the plant – the utility that’s most involved in and committed to renewable energy in the US. And they were given the project without competing bids.

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