Republicans Are Buying Solar, Too

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — If you think you know everything there is to know about red people and blue people, how they vote, what they buy, what they drive, and how they power their homes, you might be surprised at the results of a recent study—at least when it comes to that last item. PowerScout, a California-based solar company, uses satellite technology to help potential customers to assess how much sunshine they can expect to fall on their houses, to help assist them in their buying decision.

They decided to use that capability to find out if Republicans and Democrats vary widely in their use of rooftop solar panels. What they learned might surprise you.

First, a note about their methodology. They used publicly available records of donors to each of the political parties. From this, they compiled a list of 1.5 million homes across the top 20 solar states in the US. They then utilized the satellite imagery for all those addresses and fed it into something called a convolution neural network, a type of artificial intelligence system that mimics the human nervous system. The network had been trained in advance of this study to recognize the presence of solar panels in a photo of a rooftop. (Going through all those photos by hand, would have been rather time consuming.)

What they found was that overall the two parties were pretty close. A total 3.06% of Democratic donors and 2.24% of Republican donors had solar on their roofs.

They also broke down their data, state by state. In California, where solar has become mainstream, 7.24% of Republicans and 7.43% of Democrats had solar—nearly a tie. In Hawaii, Republicans actually outsolared Democrats, 9.58% to 8.50%. These are both states where solar is well-established. In other states, where solar is newly arrived, the numbers favor Democrats.

Oregon, for example split 3.10% to 1.53% for Democrats and Colorado has 3.49% vs. 1.60% tilting towards blue solar rooftops. If there is a broader pattern here, it might be that Democrats are more likely to be early adapters for solar.

Overall, this is good news to see solar so widely adapted across the political spectrum.

The trend is not limited to solar, either. Wind power is booming in red states. According the Associated Press, red states are leading the nation in wind. When it comes to installed capacity, three of the top five states are red: Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma. As for percentage of power generated, all of the top five are red: Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. Finally, of the 12 states that contribute 80% of the nation’s wind power, eight are Republican.

While Democrats might be more likely to buy clean power out of ideology, for Republicans, says this report in Bloomberg, the reason is economics. Solar and wind costs have plummeted the point where now they are generally cheaper than anything else. And Forbes just reported that solar now employs more people than coal, oil, and gas combined.

So, if you’re really interested in more jobs for Americans, you should support solar, too.