Washington, D.C.’s Solar for All program, aimed at helping low and moderate-income residents cut their utility bills, is set for a major expansion. Thanks to a substantial $62 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the initiative is poised to reach even more households in the coming years.

Launched in 2016 by Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council, the Solar for All program aims to connect residents with locally-generated community and rooftop solar power. The ambitious goal is to bring solar energy to 100,000 low and moderate-income households by 2032. To date, the program has successfully reached 9,604 D.C. households, delivering 37 megawatts of clean solar energy. This translates to about $5 million in annual savings on utility bills for participating residents.

The program’s impact is best illustrated through the experiences of residents like Cerise Elaine Turner. “It is so valuable because households can save at least $500 annually on their utility bills,” Turner said. Initially skeptical about the accessibility of solar panels, Turner discovered the program through a neighbor who installs solar panels for a living. Upon learning that some residents could receive solar panels at no cost, Turner eagerly signed up.

“The savings were what caught my interest,” Turner explained. “And, of course, how it benefits our environment.”

The recent grant from the EPA is a significant boost for the Solar for All program. According to a news release from Mayor Bowser’s office, the funds will be used to extend solar energy access to an additional 19,000 households over the next five years. This grant is part of the EPA’s $7 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund competition, designed to provide solar power to over 900,000 low-income and disadvantaged households nationwide.

Thomas Bartholomew from the city’s Department of Energy and Environment emphasized the importance of this program for residents facing financial challenges. “Paying those fixed costs month after month can be a challenge,” Bartholomew said. “We basically try to make that easier.”

The savings on utility bills can have a significant impact on household budgets. “At the end of the month when money is tight, maybe folks can spend a little extra money buying some groceries or other things that they need because of the savings we’ve helped them achieve,” Bartholomew added.

For eligible residents interested in the program, the application process is straightforward and can be completed online. This accessibility ensures that more households can benefit from the cost savings and environmental advantages of solar energy.

The expansion of the Solar for All program represents a significant step forward in D.C.’s commitment to sustainability and equity. By reducing energy costs and promoting the use of renewable energy, the program not only helps individual households but also contributes to the city’s broader environmental goals.

As the program continues to grow, it sets a powerful example for other cities looking to adopt similar initiatives. The combination of financial savings and environmental benefits makes Solar for All a model program for communities nationwide.

With continued support and funding, programs like Solar for All can help pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable future, ensuring that the benefits of solar energy are accessible to all, regardless of income level.