Heroes

More Americans will be able to afford solar energy in their homes soon. Thanks, Obama.

It's funny how only the richest people seem to be able to afford FREE energy from the sun, huh?

More Americans will be able to afford solar energy in their homes soon. Thanks, Obama.

Sunshine. You'd think — because it's free — we should all get a share.

But solar power seems to be one of those awesome things that only rich people can afford (like a shopping cart full of organic produce from Whole Foods or a Tesla).

It's awesome, but solar energy is expensive. Installations can cost thousands!

While solar panels can significantly slash homeowners' energy costs once they're installed, it's the installing part that's the problem: You might have to fork over something like $15,000 or more (yeah, we're not talkin' chump change) to get those suckers on your roof.


This baby will never throw enough money out the window to afford a solar panel. GIF from "The Little Rascals."

For those of us who aren't filthy rich, this might not be a viable option.

But! If the installation cost is reduced or cut out of the picture entirely, solar energy becomes a much more appealing option to anyone looking to save some money on energy bills.

In the long run, solar energy will help keep your wallet fat.

Earlier this year, Roy Rivera of California benefited from a program that helps low-income residents in his state access solar power. According to Grid Alternatives — the nonprofit that helped make it happen — he'll save $818 on energy costs throughout the year following installation.

"When you have a budget like ours, which is stretched just about as far as you can go," Rivera explained, "[The savings from solar energy] makes a big difference."

Sleek, right? A worker installs solar panels in Lakewood, Colorado back in 2010. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Also, solar energy is global warming's kryptonite, basically.

Climate change is real, people. The more greenhouse gas we emit, the hotter our world becomes. The good news? Solar energy is an emissions-free energy source that keeps people, animals, and trees happy, while not warming the planet.

The White House wants to help make sure people can afford to switch to solar if they want.

President Obama wants more Americans to reap the benefits of clean, affordable energy from above. So he's changing things. The White House just announced new measures that will help more Americans access solar energy.

Throughout the next five years, President Obama wants to triple the number of solar and other sustainable energy systems installed in federally subsidized housing.


President Obama chats about the awesomeness of solar energy. The panels behind him approve. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

The initiative is one of several the White House announced on July 7, 2015, that will up America's use of solar power.

The plan also includes:

  • Providing technical assistance to affordable housing organizations so they're in-the-know when it comes to installing solar panels (because who would know where to even begin?)
  • Creating a handy-dandy toolkit to help states understand how they can use federal funds in creating solar-powered communities
  • Updating an old school policy to make borrowing money for solar energy improvements easier

Solar energy is definitely a cause worth fighting for.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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