Correcting Energy Injustice in Los Angeles: Social Impacts of Grid Alternatives' Solar Programs
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ertain climate change responses have the potential to be mitigation strategies as well as adaptation plans. These solutions can also have secondary effects that benefit populations economically, socially and environmentally. This report explores one such solution in the US: low-income solar programs. The study partners with GRID Alternatives, a national nonprofit organization that focuses on energy equity programs. One of GRID Alternative’s most successful programs has been California’s Energy for All program, which installs photovoltaic solar systems on low-income resident’s roofs at no cost. Taking into consideration energy injustice, energy insecurity and Los Angeles’ climate, this study investigates how having access to solar energy has changed Los Angeles County residents’ households since installation. The study specifically attempts to determine household lifestyle changes by identifying what appliances were added or more frequently used after solar installations. The report also addresses how residents feel their utility bills have been affected by the panels. This report reflects on how solar energy influences residents’ usage of climate control devices as an adaptation strategy. The study uses data from a GRID Alternatives-administered survey distributed to its Los Angeles County clients. Results of the study show that residents reported lower electricity bills after solar panel installation. The results also show that residents capitalized on their lower electricity bills by increasing their use of air conditioning, fans and heating devices. Furthermore, residents also added refrigerators and freezers to their households — appliances which hold their own unique environmental footprints.