ORIGINAL REPORTING: Community Solar Matures And Evolves
How the utility role in community solar is evolving as the sector matures; Everybody loves community solar, but just how the sector will mature is up in the air
Herman K. Trabish, January 7, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Though community solar is still less than 1% of installed U.S. solar capacity, it is clearly a compelling and rapidly-growing model that could turn out to be a utility-owned asset, privately owned, or a hybrid, according to Community Solar Program Design Models from the Solar Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). And while many community solar arrays will be generation only, they can also be paired with storage or other DERs. It provides utilities with a role in solar and provides solar ownership options to many who do not otherwise have them.
Growth is skyrocketing, according to the report, with over 200 MW expected to go online in 2016, taking the cumulative installed capacity from an estimated 100 MW in 2015 to more than 300 MW. Each community solar program is unique but they broadly divide into two categories of ownership and two types of subscriber arrangements. An array might be third-party owned and developed or utility-owned and developed, though the utility might choose to have a third party manage its program. The customer/subscriber might pay up-front for a portion of the array’s panels or instead pay a premium rate for the output of the panels without paying anything upfront…Utilities are also introducing a new generation of community solar projects that go beyond bigger arrays and premium pricing… click here for more