Nearly a decade ago, we wrote a piece called “SOLAR JOBS STIMULUS: 7 MILLION HOMES GET PV PANEL ROOFTOPS (COVER WASHINGTON D.C. WITH SOLAR PV!)” advocating for an expansion of incentives for residential rooftop solar installations.

At the time we wrote the piece, rooftop solar cost $7 per watt to install. Today, the cost has fallen to $3 per watt for rooftop solar and $1.5 per watt at utility scale. That means that if Jeff Bezos put his entire $10 billion dollar Earth Fund into donating rooftop solar installations, he could provide two million families with free solar power.

Such a massive investment from one individual would offset 18 million tons of carbon per year (the emissions of the entire country of Kenya) and would help two million of the poorest families escape energy poverty.

2011 information graphic by the Land Art Generator Initiative proposes a solar stimulus plan for the US economy.

In 2011, there were only 260 MW of residential rooftop solar installed in the United States and mostly on wealthy homes. Today there are nearly ten times that number on approximately 2 million homes (still mostly not in poor neighborhoods). Imagine doubling that number by in six months—what the downstream effects of that would be on the cost of solar, employment in the solar industry, and what would be the economic impact of giving another $1,500 of disposable income per year over an entire generation to two million families who live paycheck to paycheck ($1,500 is roughly the annual cost of electricity they presently purchase through the utility company that will turn their power off the instant they are late on a bill).

If the Bezos Earth Fund directly benefits those who could use it the most, he and the planet may find the greatest return on the investment. Afterall, we already have the solutions to climate change. We just need to implement them, and fast. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t keep investing in scientists, activists, and nongovernmental organizations, but the clock is ticking and it might be time to roll our sleeves up and just start building the world we know we need to build.