The Future of Community Solar

While it’s clear that the country is embracing community solar, challenges remain.

In general, a well-designed community solar program can bring solar to a wider variety of customers than rooftop solar and lower the costs as a result of the economies of scale that are possible with utility-scale projects. However, as states have experimented with different program elements, challenges have arisen on issues like how to allocate costs between participating and non-participating customers, how to manage large interconnection volumes efficiently, and how to balance the need to create attractive markets for developers while providing for local control.

[W]e believe the future of community solar will continue to look bright.

In order to continue expanding while also ensuring staying power, community solar needs support from utilities, decision-makers, and customers, as well as innovative solutions to tackle the hurdles that persist. One path forward has been offered by the federal government.

National Community Solar Partnership

In November 2015, the Obama Administration established the National Community Solar Partnership with the goal to “help unlock community solar’s potential for economic growth across the United States.” The Department of Energy is leading the partnership, in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Agriculture. The focus is on bringing together key representatives from solar companies, non-profit organizations, state and community leaders, and financial institutions to work on topics relevant to the overarching mission, including: greater utilization of existing federal and state resources, sharing of best practices at the state level, development of new financing arrangements and business models, new approaches to customer acquisition and community building, and multifamily deployment considerations.

Community solar has come a long way since residents in Ellensburg, Washington first decided to build shared solar on some nearby sports fields. Since then, governments at all levels, the private sector, and consumers have shown significant interest in finding solutions to enable community solar to grow. A collaborative approach involving all stakeholders, with facilitation by key leaders in government, has proven workable for years in resolving hurdles in new markets like this. With continued involvement of all parties, and continued commitment to the goal of sharing solar benefits more broadly, we believe the future of community solar will continue to look bright.

Media Contact

Jamie Moss (newsPRos)
Media Relations
w. 201.493.1027 c. 201.788.0142

Mac Borkgren
Senior Manager, Marketing Communications & Operations

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