Community solar is expected to have a significant financial benefit to American households within the next few years. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy set a goal to power five million homes, an energy saving of nearly $1 billion, by 2025.
The goal was set in collaboration with the National Community Solar Partnership, community stakeholders, tribal governments, solar developers, and state and local municipalities. The organization comprises 650 members from 440 affiliations — a number expected to grow as the DOE expands its technical assistance offerings to the NCSP.
Community solar is not the same as the solar panels affixed to roofs. Most of these solar arrays are built off-site. Homeowners, businesses, and other groups can buy or lease the panels in the array, and the owners of the panels can receive credits on their electric bill for the energy generated from their share of the array.
Depending on the state, the arrays are managed by third-party developers, municipalities, or local energy companies.
The benefits of community solar are significant and more accessible to a diverse range of homeowners. Since the panels are off-site, customers can “buy in” to green energy without putting an array on their roof. This benefits people who rent their homes, can’t afford to build a rooftop array, or don’t live in a house where rooftop solar would be advantageous.
In addition, since individuals would own shares in the solar array, they can continue to receive money back, even if they move to a different area. Meanwhile, the energy in the grid can be directed to where it’s needed the most, thus reducing the strain on the traditional energy grid.
“Community solar is one of the most powerful tools we have to provide affordable solar energy to all American households, regardless of whether they own a home or have a roof suitable for solar panels,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.