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Solar Power Flourishing In Lower Ninth Ward

Eileen Fleming

The Lower Ninth Ward tops the list of city neighborhoods using solar power. Environmental groups say solar panels are going up on all sorts of homes.

The Sierra Club sponsored a study that finds the Lower Ninth Ward is currently issued five times more solar permits per capita than the rest of the city.

Spokesman Darryl Malek-Wiley says that of the 247 panels installed in the Lower Ninth, only 100 are on new construction.

“The majority of them have been on houses that are being renovated, restored since Katrina," he says. "In 2007, when the first panels were installed, we had to go before the historic planning district to get approval to put solar panels here and we were successful in that, so we have solar panels on historic homes.” 

Robert Green moved into his new Make it Right home in 2009.

Four months ago he had solar panels installed to get away from using fossil fuel, lower his energy bills and inspire his grandchildren living at the house.

“The solar panels are basically something that they can understand when paw-paw has a little more money for ice cream," said Green. "That’s the benefits to my grandkids. They can understand when we can go out and do a few more things out in the neighborhood because the neighborhood is now cleaned up and growing and coming back.” 

Malek-Wiley says contractors have financing options to lower the cost of installing systems.

Those options are possible because of state and federal tax credits. But those benefits are likely to be scaled back in coming years.