There are two types of solar customers: people with sunny roofs and people without sunny roofs. Just as every home had a chimney (before heat pumps), there is no doubt in my mind that every home will eventually have solar.
But what about the people without sunny rooftops, such as apartment dwellers and homes in heavily forested areas? Or people who cannot afford the up-front cost of a solar system? How can these people avoid expensive utility electricity and benefit from the superior economics of their own solar systems?
Community Solar is the answer for these sunny roof-challenged people. Basically, it is a way for people to share the power output from a large local solar array, and also contribute to the cost of the solar array. Community Solar customers benefit from lower electricity prices because they avoid the high markups, overhead and transmission costs of traditional utility power.
There are no technical, logistical or economic barriers to Community Solar — except for the determined efforts of incumbent utilities to prevent installations in their territory. Utilities use every dirty trick in the book to frustrate installations that would benefit apartment dwellers and low income customers.
According to NREL, 74% of installations are concentrated in Florida, Minnesota, New York and Massachusetts. California, the state with the most rooftop solar installations, ranks near the bottom when it comes to Community Solar. Which comes as no surprise since California’s utilities focus more on maximizing their profits rather than providing electricity that is safe (wildfires?), reliable (blackouts?), ethical (criminally negligent?) and affordable (tax rooftop solar?).
To find out what can be done to accelerate the adoption of Community Solar, my guest on this week’s show is Crystal Huang. Crystal is the CEO of People Power Solar Cooperative. Please tune in to this week’s Energy Show for Crystal’s unique and in the trenches perspective on the barriers that utilities put in place to prevent competition from Community Solar — and the policies that can be implemented to make affordable solar power available to all homeowners.