Listen Up: Community Solar

About 50 percent of U.S. residents are not great candidates for rooftop solar. They may live in an apartment, they may have a very shaded roof, or they may have a very small electric bill. The best option for these people may be some kind of shared solar power system. Community Solar, or Solar Gardens, is a great solution for this segment of the population.

Community Solar installations must be fairly large in order to support the electrical needs of dozens or even thousands of customers. With Utility Owned installations, the energy is sold by the local utility, usually at a markup so the utility can make a profit; nevertheless, customers benefit from clean energy. With Private or Special Purpose Entity installations, an independent private company is created to develop and manage the project. Owners of the company may get a share of energy from system, or just profit from the energy sales. With Non-Profit installations, the system is developed and owned by a non-profit entity in which all the costs and benefits are shared.

Virtual Net Metering is an innovation that has the potential to accelerate the deployment of Community Solar systems. With VNM a group of people share the output of the system, getting bill credits equal to their share of ownership.

25 states already have operating Community Solar installations — with many more projects in the pipeline. As the complexity with Virtual Net Metering and ownership structures are standardized, costs for electricity delivered from Community Solar will no doubt be reduced. So Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World to learn about the advantages, limitations and challenges of deploying Community Solar throughout the U.S.

About the Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Lead image credit: Patrick Breitenbach | Flickr

This podcast was originally produced by Cinnamon Solar and was presented here with permission.

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