ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Best Way To Do Community Solar
Subscriptions or sales: Which community solar approach promises the best growth? Private developers are getting ambitious and utilities are eyeing the opportunity
Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 19, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Community solar continues to grow and open new state markets.
Community solar markets are starting to snowball as developers pick apart different strategies to find the best approach. New numbers show what policies make community solar markets thrive. Nnew community solar capacity reached over 206 MW by the end of 2016, a 400% increase over the same period the year before, bringing the national cumulative capacity to 331 MW, according to the latest market report. Markets in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado, and New York are implementing policy, and individual private sector providers have dozens of projects online, in development, and under construction. SoCCme may have hundreds of projects in their pipeline.
Community solar, also known as community shared solar and solar garden, allows customers to purchase a share in a large central station solar array in exchange for a bill credit for any excess energy exported to the grid. Community solar’s biggest appeal lies in opening access to solar energy for all customers regardless of income or their possession of a roof. A 2015 report said 49% of households and 48% of businesses are currently unable to host a rooftop solar system. By reaching those customers, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates community solar could compose 32% to 49% of the distributed solar market by 2020, while attracting up to $16.3 billion in investment. In some states, untouched markets could be as high as 85% of residential customers and more than 50% of commercial customers, according to the Coalition for Community Solar Access… click here for more