1. What is community solar?
Community Shared Solar (CSS) is an innovative model that expands the reach of solar energy beyond the narrow circle of people who have both the financial means to purchase a solar system and access to a site appropriate for installing one. Solar electricity for the rest of homeowners remains unavailable. In fact, only 22-27% of residential buildings are suitable for hosting a PV system according to National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Moreover, despite the fact that investing in solar is becoming increasingly attractive – with generous state incentives and PV installation costs falling precipitously – many residents can’t afford to cross a threshold of high upfront costs. According to a 2015 survey conducted by Identity3 targeting female homeowners, almost 75% respondents felt the biggest hindrance for their house going solar was that it is too expensive.
Community Shared Solar is changing that. It is a financing solution that offers customers a choice about where their energy comes from and how much it costs. By bringing together investors, property owners and customers it makes solar energy available for all, rather than a privilege of a few.
2. How does it work?
Thanks to net metering which allows solar power owners get credits on the excess energy they produce, the energy from Community Shared Solar can be sold to anyone in the same load zone. It enables local electricity consumers to virtually purchase solar energy with no need to install a PV system on their roof. With Potluck Energy, customers of CSS will be offered electricity at a discount vs. the retail price or full ownership of a number of panels in the installation.
The overall idea is simple: investors and property owners are gaining a profitable deal and helping to build sustainable communities while electricity customers are purchasing cleaner energy at a lower rate.