What Is Community Solar?
When two or more ‘subscribers’ share the benefits of a single solar installation, you have a Community Solar Garden. The subscribers can be homeowners, renters, condo owners, businesses, schools, and/or government buildings. At the end of each month, the subscribers’ share of energy generated by the solar panels is subtracted from the energy they consumed that month. The primary purpose of a community solar garden is to offset energy consumption with clean, sometimes less expensive solar energy.
What ARe the Benefits of Community Solar?
The biggest benefit to community solar is that everyone gets to enjoy the benefits of solar energy. In fact, there are already a few non-profits using community solar as energy assistance! Previously it was only homeowners with south facing roofs and good credit that were able to take advantage of solar energy. A 2008 NREL study showed that only 22%-27% of residential rooftop area is suitable for solar installations due to shading, structural, and ownership issues. Additionally, many people can’t afford or don’t have the credit for their own solar installations. Just as community gardens make it possible for anyone to grow their own food, community solar gardens make it possible for anyone to generate their own energy.
Why are Community solar Gardens Spreading So Fast?
There are three reasons Community Solar appears to be at a tipping point:
- The plummeting cost of solar equipment.
- The Overwhelming Public Support for Solar Energy
- Tax Incentives and Renewable Energy Targets
What do Utilities think about Community SOlar?
A recent LBJ study shows that community solar provides tremendous value to both the electric utility and the subscribers. Unfortunately, many utilities have fought community solar. As community solar is extremely popular, utility opposition has led to big problems for them.