The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Community Solar: Policies that Go the Distance

Many individuals want to get into the driver's seat by securing solar photovoltaic (PV) power — but how do you get into the pole position? By using Community Solar.

The issue at hand is that only 22-27 percent of residential rooftops are suitable for PV, once you adjust for factors such as the structure, building ownership, or shading issues. The idea behind Community Solar is to allow folks who couldn't otherwise have rooftop PV to participate in investing in (and benefiting from) a PV system, according to A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private, and Non-profit Project Development.

To help these folks along, NREL has published "A Guide to Community Shared Solar: Utility, Private, and Nonprofit Project Development." This revised guide is designed as a resource for those who want to develop Community Solar programs, from community organizers or solar energy advocates to government officials or utility managers. By exploring the range of incentives and policies while providing examples of operational community solar projects, this guide helps communities plan and implement successful local energy projects.

There are three main ways that a community solar program can be structured; choosing one will depend on your community's unique situation. The three sponsorship models (taken directly from the guide) include:

  1. "Utility-Sponsored Model, in which a utility owns or operates a project that is open to voluntary ratepayer participation.
  2. Special Purpose Entity (SPE) Model, in which individual investors join in a business enterprise to develop a community solar project.
  3. Non-Profit Model, in which a charitable non-profit corporation administers a community solar project on behalf of donors or members."

The guide examines the benefits and challenges of each sponsorship model and investigates some program variations that are emerging so that program planners can identify the one that best meets their goals and needs. The examples explain the project highlights and financial details — and even provide contact information so the reader can ask follow-up questions.

As Community Solar programs gain increased interest, innovations are occurring that promote wider, broader participation. Policies that encourage community solar include: group billing, virtual net metering, and joint ownership. By examining each in turn, the guide highlights some policy best practices and also considers regulatory changes that could significantly boost community solar installations across the country. The guide then reviews some of the tax and financing issues that impact community solar projects and offers practical tools and tips for communities planning their own project.

So for anyone interested in PV that has been vexed by not owning a house or by your lovely old-growth shade trees, there is hope around the bend! Community Solar can help you benefit from PV as if it was on your house.

This article was originally published on NREL Renewable Energy Finance and was republished with permission.

RELATED ARTICLES

First Anniversary of The Balkan Floods Highlights Renewable Energy Market Opportunities

Ilias Tsagas, Contributor One year ago this month, severe flooding in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia killed 79 people, displaced about half a million and caused economic paralysis of the region. In the wake of these the catastrophic events, ...
Canadian Climate Goals

Canada Announces Weak Climate Target

Danielle Droitsch, NRDC Last week, Canada has announced its contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases by announcing its post-2020 target. The target announced today is off-track to the 80 percent cut by 2050 they committed to in...
Renewable Energy Stocks

What Drives Alternative Energy Stocks?

Harris Roen, The Roen Financial Report Alternative energy became a serious market player after the turn of the millennium. Since that time, solar, wind, smart grid and other alternative energy stocks have experienced both strong up and down trends. The forces at...
Rooftop Solar Panels

Hypocrisy? While Buffett Champions Renewables, His Company Fights Rooftop Solar

Mark Chediak, Noah Buhayar and Margaret Newkirk, Bloomberg Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power.
Karlynn Cory is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Project Finance Team Lead. She has over 15 years of research and analysis experience in renewable energy policy and markets, including feed-in tariff programs, renewable energy certificate...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

03/01/2015
Volume 18, Issue 3
file

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

EU PVSEC 2015 (European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition)

The EU PVSEC is the largest international Conference for Photovoltaic re...

Communication: Webconnect Plug & Play Installation Webinar

Get to know the fastest and easiest communication and monitoring device ...

More Power, More Profit Tour - Winston-Salem

SMA’s More Power, More Profit Tour is aimed to provide highly-valu...

COMPANY BLOGS

EU PVSEC 2014: Call for Papers Receives Great Response

More than 1,500 contributions apply for presentation in AmsterdamScienti...

EU PVSEC 2014 extends its Scope

Added focus on application and policy topicsAbstracts for conference con...

Hawaii Solar Industry Enters Uncharted Territory

Post originally appeared on the GreenLancer Blog by Ardelia Lee In...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS