Up to half of American homes and businesses do not have solar capable roofs. This fact prompted the White House, Department of Energy, and several other agencies to convene industry, non-profits, and academia to discuss and break down barriers to expanding community solar. The effort has a special focus on ensuring that access to community solar includes low-income communities.
“People are generally really excited about community solar,” said Odette Mucha from the Management and Program Analyst at the Department of Energy. “It has a lot of potential.”
She said the partnership is broken into several working groups designed to tackle critical barriers to the further development of community solar.
One group is working on to solve financing issues that community solar projects often face. The group has brought in major financial players to educate them about community solar so that they better understand how it works and will be more willing to fund these projects.
Another group has convened to share best practices for groups in states without enabling legislation for community solar. In these places, community solar projects must work through utilities.
A third group works to find existing federal resources that could be used to fund community solar initiatives. One example she cited is groups using LIHEAP funding to develop projects.
Through these working groups, Mucha said a common lesson is that community engagement is critical to project success. This is especially true, she said, for projects that are designed to expand access to solar to low income communities. She said Community excitement increases the likelihood that projects will be successful.
In the coming months, the partnership will host several regional meetings to continue its public education effort and bring in new members. The partnership has also developed a list of online resources to educate community groups.
If you or your organization would like to learn more, you should visit the National Community Solar Partnership webpage. The site has a list of resources designed to help advocates learn more about community solar. If you would like to get involved, you can sign up here. You can also email: [email protected]