The first community solar programs were started nearly a decade ago, and, as the name suggests, the early efforts were led by communities — neighbors, small towns, places of worship — in each case, a group of people dedicated to building solar systems and sharing the benefits of the electrical output.
From these humble beginnings, community solar programs have grown and evolved to include many different design structures — in fact, some programs now use the moniker “shared renewables” to reflect the fact that the concept needn’t be limited to solar. In this three-part series of articles, we’ll focus on what has become the most typical program design: community solar programs launched by utilities in service of their customers.
Frequent readers of Greentech Media know that utility-led community solar programs are growing rapidly in popularity. According to the Solar Electric Power Association, there are now more than 50 community solar programs planned or operating. However, designing and launching a community solar program can be complex. Indeed, there are a number of questions that every utility faces as it works through the design of a program.