What is Community Solar?
Community solar is a solar photovoltaic (PV) installation that provides solar energy, financial benefits, or both to several members through a voluntary program. Various approaches to community solar have been deployed across the country allowing individuals, businesses, and anyone with an electricity bill to benefit from the solar power generated by a community solar installation. Business and ownership models vary based on local or state policies, utility structures, and other market issues. However, in any model, participation is voluntary. Participants, also called subscribers, can buy or lease a share of the community solar installation; this share is typically measured by PV panel units or by capacity increments in kilowatts. In exchange, subscribers receive a commensurate credit applied to their electricity bill. As a result, subscribers may see reduced electricity rates for as long as 25 years.
While community solar business and ownership models vary, there are common stakeholders for most community solar projects. A review of those involved in developing a community solar project will help to better illustrate the benefits of various models. Some of the key stakeholders are depicted below, although there could be others depending on the structure of the project.