Natacha Kiler, a marketing and communications expert with extensive experience in the solar industry, maps out why community solar will help utilities achieve clean, affordable energy.
Community solar is the easiest way for people to get low-priced and clean electricity. It represents huge growth potential for all sorts of solar companies. And it can be the difference between a utility losing or retaining its customers.
For most utilities, solar and low-income energy assistance programs are an uncommon pairing. Typically, bill assistance and energy efficiency programs have been considered the higher-priority and more cost-effective options.
But Colorado is now upending those assumptions with groundbreaking community solar programs specifically designed for low-income customers.
Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), September 2014
The average community solar program has 213 participants purchasing power from a 1-megawatt system which is 71% subscribed.
Utilities across the United States are taking a leading role in the spread of community solar projects aimed at expanding access to clean power for customers who, for a variety of reasons, may not want or be able to install solar panels on their roofs.
In the past 18 months alone, the number of community solar projects in the U.S. jumped 64 percent, according to figures from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), which has been tracking the growth of these projects since 2012. Community solar programs initiated by utilities constitute 87 percent of the projects now online.