Community Solar Power Expands Accessibility

Community solar power projects offer a viable interim solution to those for whom solar power remains inaccessible.

Despite the availability of federal and state tax credits and incentives, many people find it difficult to afford their own PV systems. Still others can’t install a system because their rooftops are shaded or otherwise unsuitable for solar panels. And, of course, people who rent their home or office space won’t want to spend the money to make major modifications to the property.

In cases like these, community-based photovoltaic power can be a beneficial and effective (albeit temporary) solution.

What Is a Community Solar Power Program?

A CSP is a voluntary program that provides power to — and may be owned by — multiple community members. Often, the utility company offering the CSP aggregates a large group of solar projects to cut costs, and passes the savings on to the program’s participants.

A 2008 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that only 22 to 27 percent of residential rooftops are suitable for a photovoltaic installation due structural, shading and ownership issues, so these community programs are sometimes the only access consumers have to solar power.

How does Community Solar Power Work?

Current utility customers can choose to enroll in a CSP, if one is available.

In most cases, customers can join the program on a minimal level up to an amount equaling 50 percent of their annual power consumption. Once enrolled, customers are charged a fixed monthly subscription fee for the program. With each power bill, customers receive a predetermined credit proportionate to their kilowatt-hour participation level.

Growing Industry

CSP projects installed a cumulative 66 megawatts of power through the end of 2014, according to Greentech, an energy research and news outlet. Greentech’s research indicates that community projects will be the most significant type of industry growth in the United States over the next several years. Analysts believe that community photovoltaic power will have a compound growth rate of 59 percent between now and 2020.

Twenty-four states have at least one operational CSP project, and 20 other states are working to enact or have already established community solar legislation. Over the next two years, the majority of CSP projects are expected to be installed in California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Unfortunately, CSPs are only available to a small percentage of Americans today. Even if you believe you are currently unable to adopt PV power at your location, Intermountain Wind & Solar has ways to make a PV panel system accessible to you.

If you would like to explore the possibility of installing your own system, contact us today for a complimentary consultation. It won’t cost you anything but your time, and you may be surprised to learn how easy it is to adopt your own cost-saving alternative energy system. If you live in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana or Nevada, contact us today to learn more about how solar power can work for you.