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Community Solar: Affordable Clean Energy for All Communities

This Saturday, April 9th at 3:00pm, Liveable Arlington will be hosting a virtual event outlining how community solar can bring local, clean energy access to all communities and help cities overcome roadblocks to renewable energy projects. The event will be led by Stephen Brown of the Clean Energy Fund of Texas, an expert on community solar whose work revolves around finding ways to bring clean energy projects to areas that have been left out of the movement to renewable energy.

Liveable Arlington is highlighting community solar for its potential to address the significant barriers that many neighborhoods and community members run into when trying to access the benefits of local solar. Community solar involves communities, businesses or city governments creating or leasing local solar projects that provide power directly to the people involved. People who participate in community solar generally receive credits on their electric bill for energy sold back to the grid. Community solar’s major benefits include lower utility costs, clean energy without harmful air pollutants, and direct access to clean energy for renters and other community members left out of renewable energy options like rooftop solar.

In other words, community solar has the potential to allow many more people to participate in the transition to clean energy and ensure that solar development benefits local communities directly.

In anticipation of Stephen’s talk, we wanted to share with you why we think this is so important locally and across the country.

The situation in North Texas is a prime example of why we urgently need local clean energy options that can truly make low-cost, renewable energy available to all neighborhoods.

Since the fracking boom of the late 2000s, methane gas wells and gas drilling have been fixtures in Arlington and Tarrant County generally. A quick look at the map below shows how densely gas wells are packed into our neighborhoods, operating next to homes and schools where tens of thousands of Arlington kids live and learn.

Map of drill sites in Arlington with one mile radius around each site

The pollution and health impacts of gas wells are well documented, and the scientific consensus is that the farther away you live, work, and play from gas wells, the safer you are.

But protecting children from the health impacts of gas pollution isn’t just about stopping pollution sources. We need to make sure communities have access to cheaper and cleaner energy sources that provide more benefits without the health threat.

Right now, Arlington is being left behind in the shift to renewable energy. Community solar can help bring clean energy right into our neighborhoods while lowering utility costs without the pollution of oil & gas and making our communities more self-sufficient.

Austin Energy, which is the city-owned electric utility in Austin, is an example of what this can look like. They operate a community solar program that draws power from 3 solar sites. It allows residents to sign up to access local solar power.

We invite you to attend our April 9th Earth Day webinar and learn about how community solar could help your community.

We will be honoring attorney Jayla Wilkerson for her work protecting the legal rights of residents threatened by fracking pollution. We’ll also announce our first grant from the Liveable Arlington Community Fund to provide LED light bulbs for residents in the Stop Six neighborhood of Fort Worth.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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