Low Income solar and economic access
My comments are pretty straightforward, I am a 37-year-old quadriplegic disability recipient who works part-time within my capabilities. I have been in a wheelchair for 23 years and have spent most of that completely dependent on the social safety net for my medical needs, independent living, housing, transportation, and at times to provide for food.
I fall within a lot of cracks, I am systemically required to maintain poverty in order to receive personal care assistance, if my income goes above $22,000 per year every dime of it gets taken as a “co-pay” for my personal care that on any given week could be 56-80 hours of care need. There is a giant gap between my current income and what would be needed for independence. Because of that gap I cannot substantially increase my income to the point that I pay any significant personal income taxes, federal or state. Therefore, I don’t qualify for solar subsidies and if I get solar panels (which I’m in the process of attempting to right now) I have to pay full price while people that have higher incomes than I and a much greater ability to afford solar get 26% off through federal subsidies that exclude low income people. It is a poverty penalty much like uninsured medical expenses.
My request is for the state to apportion economic development funds in a way that accounts for the needs of low income individuals and spreads the benefits of these funds to them directly. I would like to see the state of Virginia create a low income solar subsidy that can help fill that gap for people like myself who would like to be energy independent. This would directly benefit Southwest Virginia as a large portion of our population lives in poverty, it will directly support Virginia’s stated intent for shifting to renewable energy, and it will, in the long term, assist low income individuals to reduce their environmental impact while also reducing their out-of-pocket daily living costs.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has an opportunity right now to meet its climate and economic development goals while also reducing or eliminating the poverty penalty of federal solar subsidies. I urge you to take this opportunity and help Southwest Virginia community members as we try to end our cycles of poverty. Thank you