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Solar Community Engagement Strategies for Planners

American Planning Association

American Planning Association

2012

Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Program Design

Project planning, Case study, Utah

Report (short)

This is one in a series of briefing papers providing planners with guidance on promoting solar energy use in their communities to help meet local energy and sustainability goals. APA produced this paper through its participation in the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), a U.S. Department of Energy funded initiative designed to help accelerate solar energy adoption on the local level by providing timely and actionable information to local governments.

The next big thing in renewable energy: Shared solar

Augustine, Paul, and Emily McGavisk

West Monroe Partners Consulting

2016

Program Design, Policy and Regulatory

Pilot program, Net metering

Journal Article

The U.S. shared solar market is poised for growth, boosted by initiatives supported by state and federal agencies, customers, contractors, and utilities. Full-scale adoption will require addressing political and economic barriers, which vary between states and program models. Investor-owned utilities will be working with regulators to define enabling policies in the coming years, while municipal and cooperative utilities will continue to pilot programs.

A Research Agenda for Environmental Management, Chapter 11: Applying transdisciplinary research to enhance low-to-moderate income households’ access to community solar

Barnett, Brad, Emily W. Prehoda, Abhilash Kantamneni, Richelle L. Winkler, Chelsea Schelly

Chart House Energy, University of Guelph, Michigan Technological University

2019

Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Affordability, Program Design

Case study, Michigan

Book Chapter

Community solar programs are promoted as an effective strategy to reduce economic, technological and social barriers preventing households and businesses from accessing the benefits of photovoltaic solar electricity. More recently, community solar has been identified as a tool to address the challenge of energy poverty facing low-to-moderate income households. However, many community solar programs fail to achieve high participation rates from this population. This chapter reflects on utilizing the transdisciplinary research process to design a viable community solar program using an on-going case study in a remote rural community with a high proportion of low-to-moderate income households in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Our research team, comprising university scientists and local public policy practitioners, gained access to social, technical and political context which helped to shape a more socially acceptable community solar program. Utilizing a transdisciplinary research approach, our current study suggests that program designers should consider community-scale criteria when considering participation, such as the retention of energy generation in the community, the opportunity for community-level decision-making and to benefit local non-profit organizations, and community pride that stems from innovation and leadership. The work offers additional support to previous findings that suggest that trusted technical experts, such as institutions of higher learning and local leaders, can assist in sociotechnical transitions like renewable energy adoption.

State Policies to Increase Low-Income Communities’ Access to Solar Power

Bovarnick, Ben, and Darryl Banks

Center for American Progress

2014

Finance, Policy and Regulatory, Multifamily Affordable Housing

News/ Magazine Article

Blog post discussing state policies to increase low-income communities' access to solar power

Community-Scale Solar: Why Developers and Buyers should Focus on this High-Potential Market Segment

Brehm, Kevin, Peter Bronski, Kieran Coleman, Stephan Doig, Joseph Goodman, Thomas Koch Blank, Titaan Palazzi

Rocky Mountain Institute

2016

Affordability, Market Analysis, Utilities

Low- to-moderate income, Electric cooperatives

Report (short)

To date, solar PV’s U.S. growth has been concentrated in two markets: utility-scale solar and behind-the-meter solar (i.e., residential rooftop and C&I). Most of solar PV’s growth in the residential rooftop segment—which is now a multi-GW annual market—has been confined to middle- and upper-income households. Utility-scale and behind-the-meter solar will both play a large role in a high-solar-penetration future, but both solar market segments could face headwinds in the years ahead. Utility-scale solar could face transmission constraints and siting challenges. Behind-the-meter solar, which in most places benefits from retail net energy metering, faces challenges to its economics in places where export compensation is being reduced to avoided cost, wholesale rates, or other terms less than the retail rate (such as in Hawaii and Nevada). Yet between traditional behind-the-meter (e.g., residential rooftop) and utility-scale solar exists a substantial untapped opportunity, one that can expand the U.S. solar market and provide affordable solar energy access to millions more Americans.

All Utility Allowance Innovations Are Local: A look at Tulare County’s Solar UA

California Housing Partnership Corporation

California Housing Partnership

2016

Finance, Affordability, Program Design

Case Study

Web page

The Housing Authority of the County of Tulare (HACT) has developed a promising model for enabling owners of low-income affordable rental housing to finance the cost of installing solar PV systems on tenant meters. In this blog, I describe how other housing authorities can and should emulate Tulare’s innovative and yet relatively simple approach, which has the power to overcome the split incentive challenge and unduly complex administrative barriers that typically plague owners of low-income rental housing.

An Affordable Housing Owner’s Guide to Utility Allowances

California Housing Partnership Corporation

California Housing Partnership

2016

Finance, Affordability, Project Development

Report (short)

Overview of federal program requirements and tips for considering utility allowance adjustments as part of your energy efficiency financing strategy

Community Solar Is Potential Resolution for Distributed‐Generation Challenges

Campbell, Becky, and Eran Mahrer

First Solar

2016

Program Design, Project Development, Utilities

Market potential, Siting, Grid services, Storage

Journal Article

Utilities around the country are experiencing booming interest from customers in distributed solar generation. With this increased interest, utilities are facing unprecedented challenges with distributed‐generation integration and rate reform pressures. In 2015, nearly 1.5 gigawatts of new residential photovoltaic (PV) were installed during the first three‐quarters of the year, and Pacific Gas and Electric surpassed 175,000 distributed solar interconnections on its grid. However, an emerging customer‐program option, community solar, may be the utility industry's key to satisfying increasing demands for renewable energy by minimizing distribution system management challenges and promising to mitigate cost inequities for nonrenewable customers.

Consumer Protection for Community Solar: A Guide for States

Chace, Diana, and Nate Hausman

Clean Energy States Alliance

2017

Policy and Regulatory, Program Design, Subscription Management

Consumer protection, RECs, Disclosure, Education, State government

Report

Community solar is a rapidly expanding model for increasing solar access and solar deployment in the U.S. It can enable broader participation in the solar economy by allowing renters, as well as homeowners whose roofs are unsuitable for solar, to benefit from solar power. The economies of scale and relative simplicity of construction of community solar projects can help to accelerate the widespread adoption of solar and provide economic, environmental, and energy security benefits to individual participants and the larger community. Because participation in community solar projects can be a complex and complicated undertaking for residential customers, this paper explores consumer protection issues that may arise, as well as considers the role states can take to ensure appropriate consumer protection measures are provided to the community solar customer.

Design choices and equity implications of community shared solar

Chan, Gabriel, Isaac Evans, Matthew Grimley, Ben Ihde, Poulomi Mazumder

University of Minnesota

2017

Program Design, Affordability, Utilities

Utility business model, Net metering

Journal Article

What is the best way to deploy solar energy to maximize clean energy growth while equitably sharing benefits? A promising model is community shared solar, which enables energy consumers to purchase shares of electricity generated in an offsite project. Noting how different states and utilities have approached program design, we explore how design decisions affect access to solar and the equity of cost and benefit sharing. We conclude with a set of questions for future research.

Community Shared Solar in Minnesota: Learning from the First 300 Megawatts

Chan, Gabriel, Matthew Grimley, Elizabeth Arnold, Isaac Evans, Jacob Herbers, Maureen Hoffman, Benjamin Ihde, et al.

University of Minnesota

2018

Program Design, Finance, Subscription Management

Case study, Minnesota

Report

Community shared solar is an emerging approach to deploying solar energy that promises to expand the market for solar by allowing a group of electricity customers without roof space or access to capital to own, finance, or lease a share of an offsite, centralized solar facility. Community solar programs are being developed across the country, and as of March, 2018, Minnesota had the country’s largest set of programs, with over 300 MW-AC installed. In this paper, we analyze the economic and political factors driving the emergence of Minnesota’s 33 community solar programs, and investigate the opportunities and barriers faced in developing community solar in different utility territories. We draw contrasts between Minnesota’s programs to illustrate the heterogeneity in approaches to designing community solar programs in terms of accessibility, affordability, subscriber acquisition, utility benefits, and subscriber agency. Our study takes a mixed methods approach: we conduct six in-depth case studies of Minnesota community solar programs, relying on a combination of informal interviews and primary source analysis; we conduct 12 semi-structured interviews with utility managers overseeing different community solar programs in the states; and we collect and analyze contracts of nearly 100 community solar subscription offers across the 31 utilities with a detailed cash flow analysis. We conclude with reflections on the Minnesota experience for reforming program and policy development in the state and lessons for the other 34 states developing community solar programs.

Community Solar: Program Design models

Chwastyk, Dan, and Jogn Sterling

Solar Electric Power Association

2015

Program Design, Utilities, Market Analysis

Market status, Subscribers

Report

Through utility-involved community solar, customers who are interested in renewable ownership, but lack rooftops ideally suited for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar, are able not only to participate but also to benefit from the economies of scale, with no maintenance associated with an offsite solar build. From the utility perspective, community solar helps improve a utility’s relationships with customers and gives the utility more control over new distributed generation projects. In this report, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy via the Solar Market Pathways grant, SEPA aims to improve the public understanding of what community solar design models currently exist. This report breaks down program design into 12 key decisions and provides discussion as to what options are most prevalent, and their resulting consequences. In addition, the report provides insight into subscription rates, development times, and administrative costs of current programs. This report is the first step in a larger process that has the overall goal of increasing the prevalence of community solar. The next two steps in this process are to conduct market research to identify what customers want in a community solar program, and then to work with individual utilities to help structure new community solar programs that best meet the utilities’ and their customers’ needs.

Community Shared Solar in Real Life

Chwastyk, Dan, and Nick Esch

Smart Electric Power Alliance

2016

Utilities, Program Design, Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Subscribers, Interviews, Case study

Report

Dominion Virginia Power engaged the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) to conduct a study on existing community solar programs in order to discover insights into 1) existing utility program designs and performances, and 2) the experiences of customers in existing community solar programs. This work is intended to inform Dominion’s development of a community solar program, helping to ensure that Dominion’s proposed program benefits from the lessons learned by others. The report was supported by a United States Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Market Pathways (SMP) grant (award No. DEEE0006914) awarded to Dominion via the DOE’s SunShot Initiative. Dominion’s SMP+H56 project aims to develop a collaborative, utility-administered solar strategy for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The goals of the Dominions SMP grant are (i) to integrate existing solar programs with new options appropriate for Virginia’s policy environment and broader economic development objectives; (ii) to promote wider deployment of solar within a low retail electric rate environment; and (iii) to serve as a replicable model for use by other states with similar policy environments including, but not limited to, the entire Southeast region. SEPA’s community solar research effort lays the groundwork for a community solar program that will support all of these goals.

Community Solar Garden Subscriber Disclosure Checklist for Minnesota Residential Pay-As-You-Go Subscriptions

Clean Energy Resource Teams

Clean Energy Resource Teams

2018

Subscription Management, Policy and Regulatory

Educational material, Outreach, Subscribers, Minnesota

Fact sheet

This standard document is intended to enable potential Community Solar subscribers in Xcel Energy territory to: 1. Clearly understand where (and whether) a given Community Solar Operator discloses the below-listed relevant terms and conditions in their residential pay-as-you-go subscription agreement; and 2. Identify additional relevant questions they the subscriber may want to ask before signing a residential subscriber agreement. The publication is written specifically for Minnesota customers.

Community Solar Garden: Subscriber Questions

Clean Energy Resource Teams

Clean Energy Resource Teams

n.d

Program Design, Finance, Subscription Management

Educational material, Outreach, Subscribers

Fact sheet

This document begins by briefly introducing Community Solar Gardens and what you should know as a potential subscriber. It then continues with questions that you can ask operators as you move forward. The publication is written specifically for Minnesota customers.

Tips for Subscribing to a Community Solar Garden

Clean Energy Resource Teams

Clean Energy Resource Teams

n.d

Program Design, Subscription Management, Finance

Educational material, Outreach, Subscribers

Fact sheet

This publication provides an overview of how to subscribe to a community solar garden. The publication is written specifically for Minnesota customers.

What is a Community Solar Garden?

Clean Energy Resource Teams

Clean Energy Resource Teams

n.d

General, Marketing and Communications

Educational material, Outreach

Fact sheet

This publication provides an overview of what a community solar garden is. The publication is written specifically for Minnesota, and who can benefit from these systems.

Community Solar Policy Decision Matrix (2019)

Coalition for Community Solar Access

Coalition for Community Solar Access

2019

Policy and Regulatory, Program Design

Consumer participation, Billing, Compensation

Report (short)

A 2019 update to the 2017 Policy Decision Matrix Document. Based on CCSA member experiences, we have created this policy decision matrix to aid policymakers in designing community solar programs. This matrix is intended to lead policymakers through important questions, grouped into five categories, which should be addressed when designing programs. To answer these questions, we provide a menu of options, focusing on those that will spur market development while providing choices to customize programs to meet a state’s needs and goals. The decision matrix provides CCSA’s recommendation for what works best, based on our members’ experiences working in different states. It also provides our rationale for that recommendation, example language to aid in drafting policies and other important issues to consider.

Financing Community-Scale Solar

Coleman, Kieran, Thomas Kock Blank, Curtis Probst, Jeff Waller

Rocky Mountain Institute

2017

Finance, Project Development

Finance, Barriers, Stakeholders

Report

Community-scale solar has attracted particular interest in the rapidly growing renewables market across the United States. Whether driven by interest from distribution utilities and community groups, or via policies like virtual net metering enacted in individual states, the sector holds untapped potential for offering competitive distributed electricity generation to a broader array of customers than are currently being served. Still, many lenders and tax equity investors have difficulty understanding both the opportunities and the challenges this market presents, and some developers active in this sector have been slow to adequately address some of the concerns of potential financial partners. This dynamic has proven to be a barrier to financing community-scale solar projects, which, in turn, has inhibited broader consumer access to renewable energy. In this report, Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI’s) Shine community-scale solar program and Sustainable Finance practice area describe how established solar-financing models can be easily adapted to the community-scale solar market, and discuss key risks and mitigants, as a framework for financiers and project developers to use in order to rapidly grow this market.

Twelve Community-Solar Pricing Strategies From Utilities in the U.S.

Community Solar Value Project

Community Solar Value Project, U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative

2017

Program Design, Finance

Pricing, Case study, Utility solar, Solar rate, Solar tariff

Report (short)

Twelve Community-Solar Pricing Strategies for U.S. Utilities is an illustrative round-up of strategies from utilities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota and Texas. In each case, the summaries are written from the utility perspective, even though in several cases, state policies have dictated a relatively narrow role for the utility. CSVP embarked on this effort in order to show the range of program and pricing options currently in the marketplace. While each of the utilities featured have incorporated some best-practice elements into their plans, we do not attempt to rank or evaluate them. Community solar program design must be suited to each utility, in consideration for state policy, utility energy-supply relationships, internal utility team strengths and limitations and customer preferences. Yet a careful study of the strategies described here can suggest directions for utilities to travel—or to avoid. The challenges in creating a document of this type are considerable. Programs are constantly changing, as are their points of contact. Further, the summaries assume certain background knowledge about community solar and utility pricing and tariff conventions. We refer readers to additional program-design information and resources on the program website, www.communitysolarvalueproject.com.

Unlocking Solar for Low- and Moderate-Income Residents: A Matrix of Financing Options by Resident, Provider, and Housing Type

Cook, Jeffrey J., and Lori Bird

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2018

Multifamily Affordable Housing, Project Development, Finance

Report

This report identifies the most promising strategies state policymakers might consider using to finance PV for LMI customers across three housing types: single family, multi- family, and manufactured housing. In this report, we examine 13 financing options that could be used to serve LMI residents and each has different impacts that are related to state administration and LMI market deployment. Policymakers will need to weigh these and other potential impacts when designing programs to serve the LMI market.

Focusing the Sun: State Considerations for Designing Community Solar Policy

Cook, Jeffrey J., and Monisha Shah

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2018

Policy and Regulatory, Program Design, Market Analysis

Low- to-moderate income, Market impact, State government

Report

To build on the recent momentum around community solar and to facilitate widespread adoption, the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) was launched in 2015, led by the U.S. Department of Energy. This report summarizes outcomes from the NCSP State Best Practices working group by identifying key differences in state policies that enable community solar and illustrating how various policy design approaches may impact the market. The critical elements focused on include program cap, project size cap, subscriber location requirements, subscriber eligibility requirements, LMI stipulations, and subscriber compensation.

Up to the Challenge: Communities Deploy Solar in Underserved Markets

Cook, Jeffrey J., Sydney Forrester, Bryn Grunwald, Jenny Heeter, Clark Henry, Monisha Shah

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, International City/County Management Association

2019

Program Design, Affordability

Low- to moderate-income, Underserved markets, Nonprofit organizations, Municipal government, Business model, Case study

Report

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Solar in Your Community Prize Challenge (SIYC Prize Challenge) in 2016 to identify innovative approaches to support solar deployment among underserved markets, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) populations, nonprofit organizations, and other community-serving entities, such as municipal governments. DOE designed the SIYC Prize Challenge to help local teams develop novel approaches to resolve them. This report describes the SIYC Prize Challenge structure, participating teams, their top technical challenges, and profiles 10 innovative teams and related business models.

The Community Solar Playbook

Cotter, Andrew

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

2016

Utilities, Marketing and Communications, Finance

Electric Cooperative, Rural

Report

The Community Solar Playbook helps co-ops explore business models and develop project implementation plans for community solar projects. It is comprised of five modules: Module 1: Executive Management, Governance, and Regulatory; Module 1a: Board of Directors Guide; Module 2: Marketing, Member-Consumer Services, and Communications; Module 3: Information Technology to Support Marketing and Program Administration; Module 4: Business, Finance, and Program Administration; and Module 5: Project Management Planning & PV System Engineering, Commissioning, and Operations.

Community Solar Scenario Tool (CSST)

Coughlin, Jason, and John Nangle

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2014

Data and Tools, Finance

Scenario modeling, Municipal utility, Project economics

Presentation

This model was developed to help municipal utilities, solar developers, and state and local advocates perform a "first cut" analysis of different community or shared solar program options. The Community Solar Scenario Tool allows users to see how various inputs, such as system size, location, and project costs, impact the economics of a project and from both a potential customer's perspective as well as the sponsoring utility’s.

Community Solar Scenario Tool (CSST)

Coughlin, Jason, and John Nangle

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2014

Data and Tools, Finance

Scenario modeling, Municipal utility, Project economics

Webinar

This model was developed to help municipal utilities, solar developers, and state and local advocates perform a "first cut" analysis of different community or shared solar program options. The Community Solar Scenario Tool allows users to see how various inputs, such as system size, location, and project costs, impact the economics of a project and from both a potential customer's perspective as well as the sponsoring utility’s.

A Guide to Community Shared Solar: Utility, Private, and Nonprofit Project Development

Coughlin, Jason, Jennifer Grove, Linda Irvine, Janet F. Jacobs, Sarah Johnson Phillips, Alexandra Sawyer, Joseph Wiedman

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development, Keyes and Fox, Stoel Rives, and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation

2012

Project Development, Policy and Regulatory, Utilities

Nonprofit organizations, Incentives

Report

By exploring the range of incentives and policies while providing examples of operational community shared solar projects, this guide will help communities plan and implement successful energy projects. In addition, by highlighting some policy best practices, this guide suggests changes in the regulatory landscape that could significantly boost community shared solar installations across the nation. The information in this guide is organized around three sponsorship models: utility projects, special purpose entity projects, and nonprofit projects.

Unlocking the Value of Community Solar

Deloitte

Deloitte

2016

Utilities, Policy and Regulatory, General

Policy, Market growth, Utility, Developer

Report (short)

In 2010, only two shared solar projects existed. Today 77 utilities administer 111 projects across 26 states, accounting for a combined capacity of about 106 megawatts (MW). As innovation takes its course, shared solar business models are continuing to evolve, and the opportunity is becoming more evident. Utilities are finding that shared solar allows them to grow their solar generation portfolios, developers are seizing the opportunity to expand their business offerings, and more customers have the chance to buy solar power. By unlocking value in each segment of the supply chain, community solar is evolving into a growth engine for distributed solar resources.

Guide to Design Decisions for Utility Sponsored Community Solar

DeShazo, J.R., Alex Turek, Michael Samulon

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

2017

Utilities, Program Design, Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Utility, Policy, Program design

Report

This report seeks to identify the important junctures in decision making when designing a community solar program and help clarify the magnitude of these choices and their consequences. As community solar continues to emerge across the country as a viable policy option for the expansion of solar access and environmental equity, program designers should be aware of the importance of garnering support from potential participants, non-participating ratepayers and the community at large. Utilities, policy makers, citizens and advocates will find this document helpful in understanding the concept of community solar and the decisions that must go into designing a successful community solar program.

Insights from the Colorado Energy Office Low-Income Community Solar Demonstration Project

Dobos, Hillary, Emily Artale, Douglas Gagne, Alexandra Anzar, Joseph Pereira, Gillian Weaver, Lindsey Stegall

Colorado Energy Office, Lotus Engineering and Sustainability, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2017

Policy and Regulatory, Program Design, Project Development

Low- to-moderate income, Participation, Subscriber savings, State government, Case study, Colorado

Report

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) has administered the state-wide weatherization program for 40 years, as directed by the U.S. Department of Energy. The weatherization team has focused on energy conservation measures that reduce heating costs. While impactful, heating costs (usually natural gas or propane consumption) only make up approximately 50 percent of the total energy bill for most low-income households that are weatherized in Colorado. The other 50 percent of the bill comes from electricity costs. Since much of a household’s natural gas and propane costs can be reduced with weatherization services, CEO has committed to finding ways to reduce electricity costs through energy efficiency and renewable energy. CEO recognized the potential for community solar to reduce low-income energy burden and initiated the Low-Income Community Solar Demonstration Project (Demonstration Project). CEO awarded GRID Alternatives -- a non-profit focused on providing solar power to low-income families -- a $1.2 million grant to implement the development of eight demonstration models throughout Colorado with non-regulated utilities. The Demonstration Project was designed to help reduce energy burden for over 300 low-income households and better understand how utility and project structures affect the ability to make low-income community solar beneficial for both utilities and low-income subscribers. CEO’s Demonstration Project shows the feasibility of building a low-income community

Elevate Distributed Generation Solar Pro Forma

Elevate

Elevate

2021

Data and Tools, Finance

Modeling Tool

The Elevate Distributed Generation Solar Pro Forma was created to provide users with a simple tool to assess the financial performance of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

REC Arbitrage Portfolio Planner

Elevate

Elevate

2021

Data and Tools, Finance

Modeling Tool

The REC Arbitrage Portfolio Planner was created to help public agencies and other portfolio owners assess the financial impact of meeting 100% renewable goals.

Elevate Community Solar Pro Forma

Elevate

Elevate

2021

Data and Tools, Finance

Modeling Tool

The Elevate Community Solar Pro Forma provides users with a simple tool to assess the financial performance of the installation and long-term subscriber management of proposed community solar projects.

Community Solar Business Case Tool

Elevate, U.S. Department of Energy

Elevate Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

2017

Finance, Project Development, Data and Tools

Business case modeling

Modeling Tool

The Community Solar Business Case Tool provides a flexible financial model that projects the costs and benefits to the system developer and subscriber of a single community solar project. It has been developed using the panel purchase or panel lease price as a basis for project costs. A basic “breakeven” price for panel purchase or monthly panel lease value is given based on the price of electricity over the course of the project.

Community Planning and Development (CPD) Renewable Energy Toolkit

Enterprise Community Partners

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

2016

Multifamily Affordable Housing, Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Finance

Federally-subsidized affordable housing

Report

The goal of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Planning and Development Renewable Energy Toolkit for Affordable Housing is to enable recipients of HUD Community Planning and Development (CPD) grants to integrate renewable energies into their affordable housing development programs under the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Housing Opportunities for People with AIDs (HOPWA), or Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) programs. Integration of renewable energy into affordable housing is important because it maintains affordability through reduced energy costs, which can facilitate improved operations and maintenance.

Multifamily Retrofit Toolkit

Enterprise Green Communities

Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

2013

Multifamily Affordable Housing, Finance, Program Design

Report

The toolkit distills Enterprise's experience retrofitting multifamily affordable housing into the critical steps necessary for success. It is a roadmap for multifamily housing owners, investors, and developers which outlines a comprehensive, cost-effective approach to retrofit.

States with Community Solar Policy Updates and Capacity Growth Potential

Fekete, Emily

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2020

Policy and Regulatory, Market Analysis

Presentation

This presentation deck provides an overview of emerging community solar markets. The presentation covers specific states with emerging community solar markets who have new programs or policies without many currently interconnected projects, as well as states that have recently updated their community solar policies or programs.

Business model innovations for deploying distributed generation: The emerging landscape of community solar in the U.S

Funkhouser, Erik, Griselda Blackburn, Clare Magee, Varun Rai

University of Texas at Austin

2015

Policy and Regulatory, Program Design, Utilities

Utility business model, Distributed generation, Net metering

Journal Article

Increasing penetration of residential photovoltaic (PV) systems has intensified concerns over the related impacts on utility revenue and the equity of deployment subsidies. Community solar (CS) has surfaced as an alternative deployment model for PV that could potentially mitigate these concerns, while integrating distributed solar PV. Given the potential that CS holds in stabilizing the customer-utility relationship amid deeper penetration of distributed solar, in this paper we combine four complementary datasets to analyze how policy, regulatory, and market factors impact the deployment of CS. Specifically, we present a detailed assessment of CS deployment in the United States, including pertinent insights relating to nameplate capacity, billing models, propensities of off-taker utilities to adopt different types of CS, and local market and policy drivers. We find that accounting for both underlying demand and policy/regulatory conditions is essential for understanding the nuanced connections between utility strategy and CS adoption. A particularly interesting finding, stemming consistently across the multiple data streams we analyze, is that utilities are motivated to develop CS not only to satisfy consumer demand or regulatory requirements for renewable energy, but also to alleviate revenue losses related to residential solar PV.

Low Income Community Solar: Utility Return Considerations for Electric Cooperatives

Gagne, Douglas, and Alexandra Aznar

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2018

Finance, Affordability, Utilities

Low-income, Electric cooperatives, Municipal utilities, Pilot project

Report (short)

The objective of this short report is to identify project structures that make low-income community solar projects more cost-effective, replicable, and scalable, for electric cooperative and municipal utilities. This report explores the tradeoffs between providing energy bill savings for low-income subscribers and utility project returns, as well as some of the key lessons learned from existing successful low-income community solar pilot projects.

Low Income Solar Policy Guide

Garren, S., A., Giancatarino, S., Greschner, R. Jackson, and I. Schwingler

Grid Alternatives, Vote Solar, Center for Social Inclusion

2017

Policy and Regulatory, Affordability, Program Design

Low- to-moderate income, Compensation, Finance

Report (short)

The Low-Income Solar Policy Guide was developed by nonprofits GRID Alternatives, Vote Solar, and the Center for Social Inclusion, to help drive the proposal and adoption of new low-income solar policies and programs, both as stand-alone efforts and as part of broader renewable energy programs. It is meant to be a tool for policymakers, community leaders and others who are working on solar access at the Federal, state and local level. There are many effective policy tools for supporting solar adoption among consumers at large, and nearly all of them help expand low-income access to solar power to some extent. However, fully enabling low income solar participation requires policies and programs that are specifically designed to address the unique barriers faced by these communities. This guide provides an overview of those barriers, as well as underlying principles for successful programs, existing policy tools that can be used to create programs, and examples of state and local models that have successfully improved access.

Sharing the Sun Community Solar Project Data

Heeter, Jenny

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2020

Data and Tools, Market Analysis

Project list

Dataset

This database represents a list of community solar projects identified through various sources as of May 2020. 

Project Summary: Community Solar Stakeholder Impacts in Cook County, Illinois

Heeter, Jenny, and Amy Hollander

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2017

Program Design, Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Benefit valuation, Stakeholder engagement, Case study, Illinois

Report

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a grant to the Cook County Department of Environmental Control (Illinois) and its project team to establish replicable business models for community solar and eliminate barriers to implementation in the county. The team was tasked with defining the value proposition of community solar to stakeholders in Cook County. To do this, they conducted multiple workshops to gain feedback from local and national stakeholders. This document summarizes the process used to evaluate stakeholder impacts of community solar in Cook County.

Community Solar 101

Heeter, Jenny, Emily Fekete, Kaifeng Xu

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2020

Program Design, Finance, Market Analysis

Program model, Low- to-moderate income, Communications

Presentation

This presentation deck provides an overview of community solar for a new user. The presentation covers community solar structures, considerations for low- and moderate-income (LMI) customers, policies related to community solar design, and a community solar market overview.

Sharing the Sun: Understanding Community Solar Deployment and Subscriptions

Heeter, Jenny, Eric O’Shaughnessy, Gabriel Chan

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Clean Kilowatts, LLC , University of Minnesota

2020

Finance, Market Analysis, Data and Tools

Net present value, Market status

Presentation

This slide deck presents data and analysis from an initial round of data collection for a three-year project studying the U.S. community solar market. The data were collected through a research collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratoryoratory, the University of Minnesota, and the Smart Electric Power Alliance. Partners gathered data from public filings, websites, state government websites, and industry collaborators.

Sharing the Sun Community Solar Project Data (Dec 2020, Revision)

Heeter, Jenny, Kaifeng Xu, Gabriel Chan

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2021

Data and Tools, Market Analysis

Project list

Dataset

This database represents a list of community solar projects identified through various sources, revised December 2020.

Design and Implementation of Community Solar Programs for Low and Moderate Income Customers

Heeter, Jenny, Lori Bird, Eric O'Shaughnessy, Sam Koebrich

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2018

Program Design, Affordability, Finance

Low- to-moderate income, Energy burden, Subscription models, Outreach

Report

Community solar has emerged as a potential model to increase low- and moderate-income (LMI) solar access and reduce LMI energy burden. To facilitate LMI participation and customer retention, projects design must consider alternative financing options, subscription models, and customer outreach strategies. This report draws from the literature and from interviews with representatives from LMI solar developers and state LMI community solar programs to provide experience on LMI community solar design.

Energy decentralization in California and New York: Conflicts in the politics of shared solar and community choice

Hess, David J., and Dasom Lee

Vanderbilt University

2020

Policy and Regulatory

Policy, Decentralization, State government, Case study, California, New York

Journal Article

This study reviews the development of shared (community) solar and community choice aggregation in the U.S. states of California and New York. Both states are leaders in energy-transition policy in the U.S., but they have different trajectories for the two forms of energy decentralization. Shared solar is more advanced in New York, but community choice is more advanced in California. Using a field theory framework, the comparative review of the trajectories of energy decentralization shows how differences in restructuring and regulatory rules affect outcomes. Differences in the rules for retail competition and authority for utilities to own distributed generation assets, plus the role of civil society and the attention from elected officials, shape the intensity of conflict and outcomes. They also contribute to the development of different types of community choice in the two states. In addition to showing how institutional conditions associated with different types of restructured markets shape the opportunities for decentralized energy, the study also examines how the efforts of actors to gain support for and to legitimate their policy preferences involve reference to broad social values.

Community Solar Basics

Interstate Renewable Energy Council

Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Solar Market Pathways, U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative

2017

Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Program Design, Finance

Bill crediting, Outreach

Interstate Renewable Energy Council Publication

Community solar programs, also known as shared solar programs, enable multiple customers to participate in and share the economic benefits of a solar energy system. Certain enabling policies and program design elements are critical to the success of any community solar program, particularly for state-led or community-led programs enabled by legislation and rules. The following table offers a brief overview of these critical elements, an accompanying checklist to help guide decision-makers and program designers as they develop programs, and useful relevant additional resources for reference

Cook County Catalyzes Community Solar in Illinois (and Beyond)

Interstate Renewable Energy Council

Interstate Renewable Energy Council

2017

Program Design

Case study, Market barriers

Interstate Renewable Energy Council Publication

Recognizing the opportunity and potential, especially in the county’s densely-populated, urban environment, Illinois’ Cook County Department of Environmental Control jumpstarted community shared solar in the state and across the Midwest with a Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Solar Market Pathways award. Cook County partnered with the City of Chicago, Elevate Energy, the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), the local investor-owned utility ComEd, and technical consultant West Monroe Partners to overcome the education, information and market barriers to community solar and demonstrate replicable community solar models through pilot projects within the county.

Five Guiding Principles for Shared Renewable Energy

Interstate Renewable Energy Council

Interstate Renewable Energy Council

2017

Program Design, Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Shared renewables

Report

These Guiding Principles steer IREC’s approach with respect to shared renewable energy program development. They are also intended to define broadly what constitutes a shared renewable energy program. With this document, IREC updates its Guiding Principles to incorporate experience over the past three years, to better define shared renewable energy and reflect the benefits of these programs to participants, the renewable energy industry, utilities, and all energy consumers.

Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Policy Guidelines and Model Provisions

Interstate Renewable Energy Council

Interstate Renewable Energy Council

2016

Policy and Regulatory, Affordability, Finance

Low- to-moderate income, Barriers

Report

Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Policy Guidelines and Model Provisions (LMI Guidelines) aims to build upon IREC’s existing Model Program Rules for Shared Renewable Energy (Model Rules), published in 2010 and updated in 2013, to provide additional information and tools to policymakers, regulators, utilities, shared renewable energy developers, program administrators and others to support the adoption and implementation of shared renewables programs specifically designed to provide meaningful and tangible benefits to LMI customers.

Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs

Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Vote Solar Initiative

Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Vote Solar Initiative

2013

Policy and Regulatory

Model program, Stakeholders

Report

The intent of the Model Program Rules is to assist stakeholders in developing local or statewide, shared renewable energy programs that expand renewable energy access to more consumers. IREC worked closely with The Vote Solar Initiative (Vote Solar) to develop the Model Program Rules, taking into account the various approaches in place at that time around the United States, including efforts in Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Washington and Utah. In advance of publication, IREC and Vote Solar vetted the Model Program Rules with utilities, industry participants and other stakeholders, and their feedback was used to further refine the Model Program Rules.

Beyond Community Solar: Aggregating Local Distributed Resources for Resilience and Sustainability

Jones, Kevin B., Erin C.Bennett, Flora Wenhui Ji, Borna Kazerooni

Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School

2017

General, Program Design, Policy and Regulatory

Community choice aggregation, Case study, California, Massachusetts, New York, Energy resilience, Barriers

Book Chapter

This chapter examines the successes and challenges of community solar as a means to meet community energy goals. Section 4 then examines community choice aggregation (CCA) as an alternative means to allow communities to go beyond what community solar can achieve to offer a roadmap for a more comprehensive model for local sustainability. In an effort to better inform local communities, the next three sections of the chapter look closely at three diverse examples of CCA in different stages of their development in Marin County, California; Lowell, Massachusetts; and Westchester County, New York. In exploring these three programs, the chapter examines how the programs are developed, their ability to encourage the adoption of renewable energy, and their adaptability toward improving the resilience of their community’s energy systems. Through this analysis, the final section explores whether CCA is a viable means for going beyond community solar and providing both low-carbon resources and higher energy resilience for communities as they seek cost-effective ways to both help mitigate and adapt to our climate challenge.

Request for Proposal Template for Grid-Tied Solar Photovoltaic Systems for State, City, and Other Entities

Kiatreungwattana, Kosol

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2018

Project Development, Data and Tools

RFP template

Report (short)

Template available for local governments seeking to develop solar energy resources on their facilities (buildings and land) through utility-interactive PV systems. It contains information on project description, requirements, and submissions. Users may use and/or modify the template to suit their needs and projects.

Modeling the Cost of LMI Community Solar Participation: Preliminary Results

Kiatreungwattana, Kosol, Lori Bird, Jenny Heeter

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2018

Finance, Affordability

Low- to-moderate income, Business case tool, Modeling

Presentation

The goal of this report is to understand the magnitude of incentives needed to drive low- and-moderate-income (LMI) customer participation in community solar. To do so, the Community Solar Business Case Tool was used to assess the cost of community solar for LMI customers in 6 states under 3 scenarios with standard assumptions for cost and size, and state specific assumptions surrounding bill credits, incentives, and generation. The three scenarios explored include at 20% LMI participation with anchor subscriber*, 20% LMI with no anchor, and bill credit level needed for positive net present value.

Community Solar for the Southeast Implementation Guide

Lips, Brian, Autumn Proudlove, David Sarkisian, Achyut Shrestha

North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center

2018

Project Development, Program Design, Utilities

Southeast U.S., Municipal utilities, Electric Co-ops, Storage

Report

This guide examines several issues related to community solar that are not currently addressed in existing resources. In addition to focusing specifically on the unique issues faced by electric cooperatives and municipal utilities in the southeast, this guide analyzes three distinct issues impacting the development of community solar: 1) innovative credit rate structures for participants, 2) community solar program design considerations for solar plus storage, and 3) getting buy-in from local leadership.

Community Solar for the Southeast Project

Lips, Brian, Autumn Proudlove, David Sarkisian, Achyut Shrestha

North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center

n.d.

Project Development, Program Design, Utilities

Southeast U.S., Municipal utilities, Electric Co-ops

Website/ web page

This webpage describes the Community Solar for the Southeast project, which aims to accelerate the installation of community solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at municipal and cooperative electric utilities across the southeast. Includes links to technical and policy resources, as well as materials from webinars and workshops conducted as part of the project.

Low Income Community Solar Policy Guidelines and Sample Bill Language

Low Income Solar Policy Guide

Grid Alternatives, Vote Solar, Center for Social Inclusion

2016

Policy and Regulatory, Affordability

Low- to-moderate income, Sample bill

Report (short)

Early lessons from low-income community solar policies and approaches demonstrate that a combination of targeted programmatic support and incentives, consumer protection measures and market based strategies will ensure that low-income customers have access to community solar programs from the outset and that markets will develop to support their robust, long-term participation and benefit. This guide provides are guidelines, best practice recommendations and sample bill language for making community solar accessible to low-income customers. These recommendations are meant to serve as a toolbox for policymakers to adopt or reference when setting up low-income community solar programs for their own unique markets.

Summary of State Approaches to Low-income Community Solar, by Program, Carveout, Incentive

Low Income Solar Policy Guide

Grid Alternatives, Vote Solar, Center for Social Inclusion

2018

Policy and Regulatory, Affordability, Program Design

Low- to-moderate income, Carveout, Incentive, State government

Fact Sheet

This publication provides a summary of state approaches to program design for low income community solar programs, including information on carveouts and incentives.

Community Shared Solar: Policy and Regulatory Considerations

McLaren, Joyce

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2014

Policy and Regulatory, Program Design

Incentives, Net metering

Report (short)

Shared solar, also called community solar, is an increasingly popular business model for deploying distributed solar technology. Shared solar projects allow customers that do not have sufficient solar resource, that rent their homes, or that are otherwise unable or unwilling to install solar on their residences, to buy or lease a portion of a shared solar system. The participant’s share of the electricity generated is credited to their electricity bill, as if the solar system were located at their home. The shared solar model expands the availability of distributed solar to a broader customer base, offers economies of scale to project developers, and may reduce the cost of incentive programs and address concerns of cross-subsidization across utility ratepayers. Increasing numbers of utilities, cities, and community groups across the United States are hosting shared solar projects. In some cases, however, policy or regulatory barriers present challenges to program implementation. This paper explores the ways in which the shared solar business model interacts with existing policy and regulations, including net metering, tax credits, and securities regulation. It presents some of the barriers that shared solar projects may face, and provides options for creating a supportive policy environment.

Expanding Solar Availability to the Low-Income Community: Learnings from the Denver Housing Authority

Mendelsohn, Mike

Solar Energy Industries Association

2018

Multifamily Affordable Housing, Program Design

Case study

Web page

Blog post about how Denver Housing Authority has been working to make solar available to the low-income community it serves.

Perspectives on community solar policy adoption across the United States

Michaud, Gilbert

Ohio University

2020

Policy and Regulatory

Policy design, Participation

Journal Article

This paper focuses on community shared solar photovoltaics (PV), an innovative solar energy program design that allows multiple consumers to share the costs and benefits of ownership in an off-site solar PV facility, opening market access to a wider variety of individuals. Community shared solar has been shown in prior literature to achieve cost reductions through economies of scale, as well as ideal project locations, collaborative emissions goals, and enhanced community cohesion, among other positive attributes. However, only 16 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia currently allow community shared solar implementation via formal legislation. Using a punctuated equilibrium framework and semi-structured telephone interviews with policy experts across the U.S. from the solar industry, environmental groups, government, and electric utilities, this research discovers that electric utility lobbying and an overall lack of attention have hindered community solar enabling legislation. However, opportunities exist for future development via increased participation, collaboration, and key events that may alter the policy equilibrium. Such research is useful in understanding how historically laggard energy policy states may adopt community shared solar legislation in the future.

Community Solar Scenario Tool (CSST)

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

n.d.

Data and Tools, Finance

Scenario modeling, Municipal utility, Project economics

Modeling Tool

This model was developed to help municipal utilities, solar developers, and state and local advocates perform a "first cut" analysis of different community or shared solar program options. The Community Solar Scenario Tool allows users to see how various inputs, such as system size, location, and project costs, impact the economics of a project and from both a potential customer's perspective as well as the sponsoring utility’s.

Low- and Moderate-Income Solar Policy Basics

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

n.d.

Affordability, General

Web page

This page describes background, implementation issues, design best practices, potential financing mechanisms, and potential funding for increasing access to solar power for low- and moderate-income communities.

Achieving Cooperative Community Equitable Solar Sources (ACCESS)

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

n.d.

Utilities, Affordability

Electric Cooperative, Rural

Website/ Web page

This is the home page of NRECA's Achieving Cooperative Community Equitable Solar Sources (ACCESS) project, an effort to explore ways to help make solar options available to members in need, funded by the U.S Department of Energy (DOE), through the Solar Energy Technology Office (SETO).

Community Solar NY

New York Sun

New York Sun

2015

Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Marketing and Communications, Finance

Educational material, Outreach

Fact Sheet

This publication gives an example of outreach material from the New York Sun program, and includes information on incentive program, funding, workshops, and more.

Community Solar Economic Analysis Tool

North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center

North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center

2018

Data and Tools, Project Development, Finance

Municipal utilities, Electric Co-ops, Storage

Modeling Tool

All in the Community: Using Community Solar Gardens to Bring the Benefits of Renewable Energy to Low-Income Communities

O'Connor, Megan

Georgetown University Law Center

2019

Affordability, Policy and Regulatory, Finance

Low- to-moderate income, Net metering, Utility regulation

Journal Article

The goal of this Note is to analyze a possible solution to make distributed generation (“DG”) solar energy more affordable and available to low-income customers. The growth of renewable energy, in the form of DG solar, in the United States can be attributed to the benefits that DG solar has on mitigating the effects of climate change and helping to reduce customers’ reliance on traditional utility energy, thereby reducing the costs of their energy bills. The growth of DG solar in the United States can also be attributed to the declining costs of installing DG solar coupled with federal and state policies that promote the use of renewable energy.

Community Solar: Best Practices for Utilities in the South

Ottenweller, Katie

Southern Environmental Law Center

2015

Utilities, Program Design, Affordability

Best practices, Southern States, RECs, Siting, Enrollment

Report (short)

This policy brief provides information about how utilities in Southern States can best implement best practices to ensure the development of successful Community Solar programs.

Putting Research to Action: Integrating Collaborative Governance and Community-Engaged Research for Community Solar

Prehoda, Emily, Richelle Winkler, Chelsea Schelly

Michigan Technological University

2019

Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Affordability, Program Design

Collaborative governance, Rural, Participation, Case study, Michigan

Journal Article

Community solar involves the installation of a solar electricity system that is built in one central location with the costs and benefits distributed across voluntary investors who choose to subscribe and receive credits based on the generated energy. Community solar is gaining attention because of its potential to increase access to renewable energy and to democratize energy governance. This paper reflects on community-engaged research experiences in two rural community case studies in Michigan, USA, focusing on obstacles that were experienced during the research process rather than empirical findings from the research. We highlight difficulties we experienced to help advance a conceptual argument about incorporating collaborative governance strategies to improve community-engaged research for community energy projects. Our reflections illustrate challenges in community-engaged research that are associated with identifying who should be included in the decision-making process, sustaining participation and avoiding exploitation, establishing and communicating final decision-making power, and giving attention to outputs and outcomes of the research. We argue that collaborative governance strategies can help to address these challenges, as we experienced firsthand in our project.

Community Outreach and Solar Equity: A Guide for States on Collaborating with Community-Based Organizations

Ramanan, Abbe, Shauna Beland, Yasmin Yacoby, Nicole Hernandez Hammer

Clean Energy States Alliance

2021

Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Equity/ Justice, Affordability

Case study, Rhode Island, Oregon, Washington D.C., Minnesota

Report

This guide is designed as a resource for state energy agencies that are looking to strengthen their relationships with local under-resourced communities or are beginning to engage in energy justice work. It is a collection of best practices, ideas, and principles that provide states a foundation for building equitable relationships with community-based organizations (CBOs) and for working with them on solar development.

Virginia Solar Pathways Project: Economic Study of Utility Administered Solar Programs: Soft Costs, Community Solar, and Tax Normalization Considerations

Reiter, Emerson, Travis Lowder, Shivani Mathur, Megan Mercer

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2016

Finance, Utilities, Policy and Regulatory

Tax normalization, Soft costs

Report

This report presents economic considerations for solar development in support of the Virginia Solar Pathways Project (VSPP). Three major topics are considered, selected due to their potential to reduce the installed costs of solar energy and the pivotal role electric utility companies play in each of the three. They include (1) the potential for soft cost reductions through utility-administered solar, (2) utility involvement in community solar development in the Southeast, and (3) the financial impacts of tax normalization policy on utility-led solar development.

Rhode Island Community Solar Marketplace

Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources

Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources

n.d.

General

Website/ web page

This online community solar marketplace, hosted by OER, links potential community solar customers with existing community solar projects actively seeking subscribers and provides resources for Rhode Islanders to learn more about community solar.

Community-Solar Utility Programs

Romano, Andrea

Community Solar Value Project

2015

Program Design, Utilities

Case study, Arizona, Washington, Iowa, California

Presentation

Community Solar Value Project interviewed five program managers at utilities across the United States to learn about their community solar programs.

A spatial analysis of the development potential of rooftop and community solar energy

Schunder, Torsten, Dameng Yin, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, Krishna Rajan

University of Buffalo

2020

Affordability, Project Development

Low income, Siting, Brownfields, Solar potential

Journal Article

Solar energy is a technically and economically feasible solution for transitioning to renewable sources for electrification. Physical and socio-economic conditions that are important determinants of solar access and use have been discussed in the literature. However, the relative access of different population groups to surfaces able to accommodate equipment to generate solar energy (both individual and community levels) is rarely investigated. In this study, we use remote sensing (e.g., LiDAR) and land use data (e.g., tax parcels) to identify residential rooftop and community solar potential (SP) in Erie County, New York. Underlying socio-demographic and urbanization context are then examined to show if community solar is a solution for population groups who have limited access to rooftop solar. Results indicate that rooftop and community SP have similar distributions among socio-demographic groups. Low income and minority population have not only relatively low access to rooftop solar (54% compared to affluent households, 60% compared to white households), but also have limited access to potential community solar sites in their neighborhoods (37% compared to affluent households, 16% compared to white households). Nevertheless, our methodology provides a way to identify neighborhoods where community solar can be a solution for population with limited access to rooftop solar. Results show that in selected areas with available space (e.g., brownfields), community solar is an accessible alternative. The results imply the need for policy development to address such access issues so that technological advancements can benefit different communities.

Utility Community Solar Handbook

Siegrist, Carl R., Bianca Barth, Becky Campbell, Bart Krishnamoorthy, Mike Taylor

Smart Electric Power Alliance

2013

Utilities, Program Design, Marketing and Communications

Stakeholders, Supply management

Report

This handbook provides the utility’s perspective on utility managed community solar program development and is a resource for government officials, regulators, community organizers, solar energy advocates, non-profits and interested citizens who want to support or educate their local utility in implementing a new or improving an existing community solar project. It describes the major design elements the utility needs to address during program development and provides suggestions for how to constructively engage with the utility and support program implementation from a well-informed perspective.

Rooftop Solar Technical Potential for Low-to-Moderate Income Households in the United States

Sigrin, Benjamin , and Meghan Mooney

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2018

Project Development, General, Multifamily Affordable Housing

Report

NREL research investigating the technical potential of rooftop solar in the United States, aiming to improve the understanding in the residential sector, particularly for low-to-moderate income households.

What the Community Solar Customer Wants

Smart Electric Power Alliance

Smart Electric Power Alliance, Shelton Grp, U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative

2016

Market Analysis, Marketing and Communications

Consumer preference, Program model, Market potential

Report

As part of a community solar project funded by the Solar Market Pathways grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, SEPA and Shelton Group polled American consumers and businesses to identify the audiences for find out what they want most from a community solar program. We’ll take a look at the consumer side first.

Community Solar Basics: Consumer Information (part 1 of 3)

Solar United Neighbors

Solar United Neighbors

2020

General

Webinar

Community solar offers the benefit of solar to those who can’t — or prefer not to — install solar panels on their homes. In this webinar recording, you'll learn the basics of community solar. Learn how subscribing to a community solar project enables individuals and businesses to receive a credit on their electric bill each month for the solar energy produced by their share. Find out: • How community solar works • What to look for in an offering • How to be an informed consumer. This is the first in a three-part series of webinars about community solar. Watch Episode 2 at: https://youtu.be/4okvPSNEp68 Watch Episode 3 at: https://youtu.be/CzuTKSbMX3Q

Community Solar Basics: Programs and Policy (part 2 of 3)

Solar United Neighbors

Solar United Neighbors

2020

Program Design, Policy and Regulatory

Webinar

In this webinar recording, you'll learn the basics of community solar policy and programs. Subscribing to a community solar project enables individuals and businesses to receive a credit on their electric bill each month for the solar energy produced by their share. Join us in taking a closer look at how community solar programs happen. Find out: • What kinds of community solar projects are there (from legislatively-mandated to utility-driven) • What the difference is and why it matters to you. This is the second in a three-part series of webinars about community solar. Watch Episode 1 at: https://youtu.be/nFgjF8jkL3c Watch Episode 3 at: https://youtu.be/CzuTKSbMX3Q

Guide to Community Solar

Solar United Neighbors

Solar United Neighbors

2020

General

Fact sheet

Overview of community solar with links to additional resources including a three-part webinar series (see separate entries by this author for each webinar)

Project Development: Grow Your Own (part 3 of 3)

Solar United Neighbors

Solar United Neighbors

2020

Program Design, Project Development

Webinar

In this webinar recording, you'll learn how to be part of a new community solar project in your community. Subscribing to a community solar project enables individuals and businesses to receive a credit on their electric bill each month for the solar energy produced by their share. Join us in taking a closer look at community solar project development. Find out: • What role you can play in starting a community solar project in your community • What do you need to know if you're considering it • What terminology and components to be aware of • What challenges you could face, and how to navigate them. This is the third in a three-part series of webinars about community solar. Watch Episode 1 at: https://youtu.be/nFgjF8jkL3c Watch Episode 2 at: https://youtu.be/4okvPSNEp68

Learn the Issues: Community Solar

Solar United Neighbors

Solar United Neighbors

n.d.

General

Web page

Overview of community solar with links to additional resources including a three-part webinar series (see separate entries by this author for each webinar)

The Ecology of Community Solar Gardening: A 'Companion Planting' Guide

Stanton, Tom, and Kathryn Kline

National Regulatory Research Institute

2016

Program Design, Policy and Regulatory, Utilities

Journal Article

This NRRI research paper provides an overview of community solar (CS) activities around the country. It reports on the rapid expansion of community solar projects under two different rubrics: 1. States that are implementing laws and rules that govern CS, currently underway in 15 states and the District of Columbia;* 2. In other states as well those above, individual utility companies are obtaining approvals from their state regulatory authorities, or for non-state-regulated utilities from their governing boards or commissions, for CS programs. Part I introduces the concept of community solar. Part II presents a working definition for CS, explains how certain CS program designs can lower costs by avoiding state and federal securities regulations and IRS treatment of customer benefits as taxable income. Part III reviews many important reasons why CS is important, from the standpoint of customers, utilities, the solar industry, and the regulatory community. Part IV summarizes state laws and rules about CS programs, presents examples of the major similarities and differences in CS regulations, and compares how the programs address more than a dozen major program design aspects. Part V explores some regulatory considerations and preliminary ideas about approaches that policy makers might consider for CS programs, and presents some brief ideas about future research related to CS.

Community Solar Overview and Market Projections

Szaro, Jennifer

Smart Electric Power Alliance

2017

Market Analysis, Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Market potential, Market status

Presentation

This publication covers topics including community solar market potential, market status, customer engagement, program design. Published by the Smart Electric Power Alliance.

Community Solar Opportunities for Low to Moderate Income Households in the Southeast

Tazewell, Anne, and Achyut Shrestha

North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center

2018

Affordability, Program Design, Utilities

Low- to-moderate income, Southern states, Storage, Barriers

Report

This report was developed following a workshop held on December 11, 2017 in Raleigh, North Carolina to explore the opportunities and barriers to making community solar available for low income households. The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center and the North Carolina Justice Center hosted "Identifying Benefits, Barriers, and Solutions to Low-Income Community Solar for Cooperative and Municipal Utilities in the Southeast," an in-person, half-day workshop with 38 attendees from 24 different organizations.

Community Solar Is Bringing Renewable Energy to Everyone

The Spark

Bloomberg

2021

General, Affordability, Equity/ Justice

WeSolar, Pivot Energy, NREL, Bithenergy, Colorado, Baltimore

Video

A new business model for residential power enables people to switch to solar without the up-front cost of home installation, a critical step in bringing lower-income Americans into the green fold.

National Community Solar Partnership

U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

2020

General, Affordability

Subscription accessibility, Low- to-moderate income

Fact sheet

The National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) is a coalition of community solar stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every American household by 2025. This U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) partnership, led by the Solar Energy Technologies Office and supported by the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office, will convene multi-stakeholder teams around collective goals, provide technical assistance for specific local challenges, and develop an online community platform to support peer learning and exchange.

Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments

U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

2011

Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Policy and Regulatory, Finance

Education

Report

This guide can help stimulate ideas or provide a framework for a comprehensive solar plan for a community. Each section is divided into topic areas—typically within the jurisdiction of local governments—that are integral in creating and supporting local solar markets. Each topic area includes: • An introduction that describes the policy or program and states its purpose • Information on benefits of implementing the policy or program • Tips and options for designing and implementing the policy or program • Examples that highlight experiences from communities that have successfully implemented the policy or program; and additional reports, references, and tools that can offer more information on the topic.

Solar Financing Model: National Housing Trust

U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings

U.S. Department of Energy

2014

Multifamily Affordable Housing, Finance

Case study

Fact Sheet

The National Housing Trust/Enterprise Preservation Corporation is an affiliate of the National Housing Trust, a non-profit engaged in preserving affordable housing. In order to combat the impact of volatile energy prices and harness more environmentally-friendly energy sources, NHT/Enterprise Preservation Corporation installed solar systems on its multifamily affordable housing properties and is working with other multifamily housing owners to do the same. The initiative established to own and operate the systems is called NHT Renewable. The first major NHT Renewable project was completed in Fall 2014—the installation of 14 solar systems across 13 buildings in Washington, D.C.

Issue Brief: Reducing Energy Burden for Low-income Residents in Multifamily Housing with Solar Energy

U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings

U.S. Department of Energy

2018

Finance, Multifamily Affordable Housing, Project Development

Report (short)

This issue brief discusses some of the key considerations and related opportunities for deploying solar for low-income multifamily housing (buildings with 5 or more units). In particular, program administrators may need to consider how differences in multifamily housing financing structure and type can influence resident eligibility as well as resulting impacts on energy burden in both on-site and off-site solar installations. This issue brief will touch on these considerations and profile two multifamily housing examples that demonstrate how state and local entities have deployed solar energy (photovoltaics) on behalf of low-income residents.

Organizational Solar Readiness Assessment

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

2016

Multifamily Affordable Housing, Data and Tools

Self-assessment, Solar readiness

Report (short)

This document helps increase deployment of economically- and environmentally-beneficial solar projects on affordable housing sites by providing organizations with a tool to evaluate their current understanding of the opportunities for solar project development and determine where they need guidance. The assessment walks affordable housing organizations through the four main steps in the solar development lifecycle and includes links to external resources for additional assistance.

Renew300 Solar Site Selection Guide

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

2017

Multifamily Affordable Housing, Data and Tools

Site selection

Report (short)

This Guide was developed by ICF under a technical assistance cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Renew300 Initiative.

Federal Renewable Initiatives Case Reports: Denver Housing Authority Leverages Power Purchase Agreement for Jurisdiction-wide Scattered Site Solar Installations

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

2013

Community and Stakeholder Engagement, Program Design, Finance

Case study, Denver

Fact Sheet

The Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver launched a public-private partnership to install solar photovoltaic systems across its portfolio of scattered-site, single family residential buildings. The installations are financed through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a solar provider that enables the PHA to achieve solar installations with no up-front capital costs. Under the PPA, the meter holders would pay for the power generated from the installed systems, initially priced at a rate roughly comparable to the current rates. Energy savings would occur in out-years as utility rates increased beyond the energy rate specified in the PPA.

Community Solar: An Opportunity to Enhance Sustainable Development on Landfills and Other Contaminated Site

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

2016

Project Development, Affordability

Brownfield development, Business case study, Market status

Report

The audiences for this paper include RE-Powering site owners/responsible parties; solar developers; utilities; government energy, environmental, and housing agencies; and other stakeholders. Due to the complexities of many community solar programs, engagement of multiple parties is essential for success. The analysis in this paper is drawn from interviews with stakeholders from across the country that are active in community solar markets, as well as secondary source information on trends, challenges, and best practices. The paper presents: The market context for community solar; A business case for community solar on RE-Powering sites; Challenges to developing REPowering sites for community solar; Discussion questions to help unlock community solar potential; and A bibliography, glossary, and additional reference material.

What is Community Solar?

Watkins, Forrest

Solstice

2020

General, Program Design, Subscription Management

Web page

Overview of community solar

84 gigawatts of community solar, and the plan to get there

Weaver, John

PV Magazine

2018

Market Analysis, Policy and Regulatory, Finance

News/ Magazine Article

Summary of The Vision for U.S. Community Solar: A Roadmap to 2030, a vision for the future of community solar through 2030, that Vote Solar commissioned GTM Research, now Wood Mackenzie, to develop. Includes opinions on the policy, structure, finance and innovation needed to move the market forward.