Skip to main content
Solar panels creating green energy
Toolkit

Equitable Solar Policy Principles

Solar panels creating green energy

Solar Equity Initiative

Equitable Solar Policy Principles

Released Spring 2021

In 2018, the NAACP launched the Solar Equity Initiative (SEI) to increase solar installations in communities of color and to connect these communities to skills training for solar jobs, all supported by strengthened solar equity policies. The Initiative is centered on the civil, economic, and environmental justice rights connecting communities of color and low-income communities across the nation. Today, the Solar Equity Initiative has grown to include additional solar industry partners, clean energy advocacy organizations, faith groups, and community partners invested in advancing the equitable deployment of solar and its benefits, developing bold solar policy, and addressing the impacts of climate change. 

In 2021, the Solar Equity Initiative developed this set of Equitable Solar Policy Principles to ensure internal alignment and develop a shared understanding of equitable solar policy. These principles can assist advocates and policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels to craft policy solutions that are holistic in nature and ensure benefits flow to Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), and other frontline communities. 

Studies have shown that low-income and communities of color bear higher levels of exposure to pollution from fossil fuel-based energy production. Communities of color and low-income communities are subject to poor health outcomes, compromised education, loss of livelihoods, and loss of life as a result of exposure to toxins and the ravages of climate change. The 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race presents an opportunity for future exploration and incorporation into policy development. 

Open and inclusive solar policymaking must address past, current, and future impacts of pollution on frontline and BIPOC communities. For too long, policies surrounding solar energy have not adequately offered communities an opportunity to lessen their energy burden, improve health outcomes, or increase access to employment and business opportunities. Additionally, for frontline and BIPOC communities proximity and ownership of land continues to be a challenge. 

To be successful, an equitable solar policy must incorporate aspects of transparency, ownership, accountability and move communities towards a more resilient and just future that takes into account all of their needs. 

Solar Policy Principle Requirements

This set of Equitable Solar Policy Principles should be considered a living document that the Solar Equity Initiative will periodically revisit to best reflect our collective commitments.  

In order to create tangible progress for BIPOC and other frontline communities, equitable solar policy should:

  • Principle 1: reflect an inclusive and community-driven theory of change guided by the Principles of Environmental Justice and the Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing.
  • Principle 2: address past, current, and future impacts of climate change by fostering the development of solar energy policies that move us toward a resilient and just transition. Solar energy policies should exist as part of a suite of policies to direct a Just Transition towards a decarbonized economy. 
  • Principle 3: result in measurable improvements in solar adoption rates and whenever possible ownership and control of solar with strong consumer protections in place. 
  • Principle 4: increase and advocate for resilience (grid, community, and individual).
  • Principle 5: be cross-cutting, so that they address water quality, housing affordability, community development, clean air, workforce equity, and jobs, contracting equity, economic development, education, food access and affordability, transportation, utility regulation, community engagement, and other concerns. 
  • Principle 6: be integrated with energy efficiency, grid upgrades, other renewables, building, and transportation/transit electrification, storage, etc.
  • Principle 7: drive both economic and political benefits of solar to reduce energy burdens, make energy more affordable, increase ownership opportunities, create jobs within these communities, and support entrepreneurs and minority and women-owned businesses. Policies should also foster the creation of an inclusive solar energy workforce and business community.
  • Principle 8: strive for equitable, accessible solar that also delivers net positive impacts or benefits, educates consumers, and empowers them to make their own, informed decisions.  Companies and organizations should operate at the highest ethical standards and not engage in deceptive or abusive acts or practices. 
Two men in hard hats on a rooftop next to solar panels, while people stand below next to a playground.
A man and woman stand side by side in front of a house on top of which an installer is putting on solar panels and a banner hangs from the roof that reads NAACP COMPTON BRANCH
A large group of people raise their hands in the air while seated at tables inside a church building
People stand in a line wearing hardhats and holding banners from GRID Alternatives, the San Diego NAACP, and Sunrun, while a woman and child kneel in front of the group.
A woman pictured in front of a yellow wall with large white text reading "THANK YOU, ROSARIO" and smaller text below reading Go Solar with NAACP, Take the pledge TODAY, @ecjp_naacp | www.naacp.org
Two men in hard hats on a rooftop next to solar panels, while people stand below next to a playground.
A man and woman stand side by side in front of a house on top of which an installer is putting on solar panels and a banner hangs from the roof that reads NAACP COMPTON BRANCH
A large group of people raise their hands in the air while seated at tables inside a church building
People stand in a line wearing hardhats and holding banners from GRID Alternatives, the San Diego NAACP, and Sunrun, while a woman and child kneel in front of the group.
A woman pictured in front of a yellow wall with large white text reading "THANK YOU, ROSARIO" and smaller text below reading Go Solar with NAACP, Take the pledge TODAY, @ecjp_naacp | www.naacp.org
1of5
The Solar Equity Initiative (SEI) kickoff, held in Los Angeles the same weekend as the 2018 MLK Day of Service, resulted in a free solar photovoltaic system installed to benefit the Jenesse Center, Inc.
2of5
Through the SEI, leaders from NAACP Compton joined GRID Alternatives staff and job trainees as they installed no-cost solar on the home of Cheryl Stephen, a resident of East Compton for four decades.
3of5
As part of the SEI, World Outreach Campus Church in Saginaw, MI, partnered with the NAACP's Saginaw Branch to build a rooftop solar installation that will serve their faith community's needs with plentiful sunshine.
4of5
GRID Alternatives and Sunrun, together with community and NAACP San Diego volunteers, installed solar panels on the home of a retired couple through the SEI.
5of5
Rosario Dawson – a prolific producer, actress, singer, and political activist for women's rights and environmental justice – stands for solar equity with the NAACP SEI.

Glossary of Terms

Definitions are pulled from the 100% Network glossary of terms and The Energy Justice Workbook.

Supreme Court styled image

We Are Fully Invested In Good Trouble

Our democracy is at stake. Your donation helps to support and defend those who are fighting to protect the rights of millions of Texans.

Protect Our Democracy