Solar for All: How to incentivize community solar projects to benefit low-, middle-income customers

By Charles W. Thurston, Solar Builder Magazine

Community solar has taken off within the renewable energy development leagues, melding the interests of residential and commercial or industrial customers, as well as the local utilities. While the inclusion of low- and middle-income (LMI) residential customers are widely enabled by state legislation on community solar, specific carve-outs or percentage requirements for LMI customers are less common. At times, solar developers have focused heavily on anchor commercial or industrial customers and paid little attention to residential participation, much less the LMI segment.

To help remedy this practice of under-weighting LMI customers in community solar development, local housing authorities have stepped up to bring their resources — if not regulations — to bear, early in the planning process. Developers also have found that the housing authorities and other social institutions can be valuable partners in locating and enrolling customers in a project well ahead of ground-breaking. Read more here.

Photo: Geronimo Energy team celebrating another community solar install in Minnesota, which recently sold a 100-MW community solar portfolio in Minnesota to Berkshire Hathaway.

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