PURPLE SUN

America is torn apart by partisan politics—except when it comes to buying solar power 

Obsession
Energy Shocks
Obsession
Energy Shocks

We are all one when it comes to getting cheap power from the sun. Amidst the political rancor roiling the United States, one bright spot is home solar power installation. It keeps going up, and a study by PowerScout, a company that helps people switch to renewable energy, finds that to be true for households on both sides of the political divide.

PowerScout used machine-learning algorithms and satellite imagery to detect rooftop solar panels on the homes of 1.5 million political donors in 20 states. In mature solar markets like California and Hawaii, Republicans and Democrats install solar at nearly equal rates, says Eric Roberts of PowerScout. In more nascent markets, Democrats have slightly higher installation rates than Republicans. These findings hold throughout the country.

Republican adoption was particularly responsive to cost savings: Conservative households installed more solar panels in states where first-year savings were highest.

Other power companies have found similar results. A Pricenomics study in California found that Republicans were more likely to purchase solar than their Democratic counterparts (1.07% vs 0.21% respectively), at least at the county level. Geography was strongly correlated: sunny, dry, and less urban areas amenable to home solar happened to be overwhelmingly Republican counties.

When it comes to solar, practicality seems to trump partisanship.

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