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Over 300K residents of Alaska may soon see 10%-20% savings on their energy bills

"This is a bright day for Alaska."

"This is a bright day for Alaska."

Photo Credit: iStock

The Alaska legislature has approved a bipartisan bill that will bring affordable, nonpolluting energy to thousands of renters and low-income residents. 

As detailed by Solar Power World on May 16, Senate Bill 152 is expected to make community solar power available to more than 260,000 renters and 79,000 Alaskans below the federal poverty line. Subscribers can anticipate a 10% to 20% reduction in their monthly electric bills. 

"It's nice to see Alaska embrace the power of local, clean, distributed energy as an important part of their overall energy mix," said Kevin Cray, the Coalition for Community Solar Access' Mountain West Senior Regional Director. "... We applaud the legislature for recognizing this as a net positive for their constituents and urge Gov. [Mike] Dunleavy to sign this bill."

The Inflation Reduction Act has helped many Americans obtain access to solar panels, which make our energy grid more resilient in the face of extreme weather events increasing because of a warming planet. They also contribute to a healthier world by reducing harmful pollution. 

However, people in rental units sometimes face hurdles to installing panels because of building regulations. Additionally, while solar panels have become more affordable, the high upfront cost can still be too much for some low-income communities. 

Community solar programs help address those barriers. Save On Energy is a resource for people who want to transition to solar regardless of their housing type. Its free, quick solar estimate has helped thousands of people find the best rates in their areas with the guidance of experts. 

However, to this point, Alaska has been among the few states without any community solar programs in place, as The Alaska Center noted.   

Now, Senate Bill 152 is expected to change that. 

"We've heard so many times through our Solarize programs: What if I'm a renter? What if I can't personally afford a solar installation? Finally, all Alaskans on the Railbelt will be able to subscribe to community energy installations and benefit from low-cost renewable power," Chantal de Alcuaz, co-executive director of The Alaska Center, told Solar Power World. "... This gets us closer to a more equitable energy environment, where clean energy is available to all." 

Alaska has also received a boost from the Solar for All grant competition. In April, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was awarding $62.45 million to the Alaska Energy Authority and Alaska Native nonprofit Tanana Chiefs Conference for "long-lasting" solar programs that support disadvantaged communities.    

"This is common sense legislation that allows Alaskans to access the fastest-growing segment of the renewable energy industry," Alaska Public Interest Research Group policy analyst Phil Wight said of Senate Bill 152, per Solar Power World

"With billions of dollars available from private financing and federal incentives, the bipartisan SAVE Act will enable Alaskans to supercharge the deployment of low-cost, clean electrical generation, further diversifying generation sources and providing significant consumer bill savings," he added. "This is a bright day for Alaska."

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