• SEIA and CCSA have brought out a guide to enable energy consumers to understand the concept of community solar
  • A short guide, it will help interested consumers to know what it means to sign an agreement or know the payment plans
  • In the US, community solar is considered an important means to popularize solar among masses, hence the guide is right on time

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), in collaboration with the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) has released a guide for community solar. Titled ‘Residential Consumer Guide to Community Solar’, the report was released to coincide with the American Independence Day.

Launched as a means to give ‘energy independence’ to the consumers, the report is meant to enhance consumer understanding of the concept of community solar so that they are able to take the right decision about opting for community solar. It lays down a checklist which the consumers can refer to when deciding to opt for a community solar program or sign an agreement. With the help of this guide, they can also understand the payment plans and make the right choice as informed customers.

The concept of community solar is a step forward from the success of distributed generation of clean power through solar PV. While rooftop PV is usually for people who have space on the roofs of their homes to put up solar panels, community solar is for people who rent their homes, live in an apartment or do not have adequate roof space. They also may not qualify for a lease on their solar panels. For all these people and even those who do have enough space on the rooftop but prefer not to add solar on their own home, community solar is an excellent option.

The guide describes community solar as a solar PV project that can be subscribed by a lot of people at the same time. They receive credits on their utility bill for their portion of energy produced by the community solar system. Tom Kimbis, the interim president of SEIA, said, “This guide empowers consumers so they have the utmost confidence in their decision to choose community solar.”

At the end of 2015, the US had 94 MW of community solar in the US, and according to GTM Research, 173 MW more is expected to be installed in 2016. A GTM Research report titled US Community Solar Market Outlook 2015-2020, launched in June 2015, believes community solar to be a half GW annual market by 2020 in the US.

Community solar is hailed as a unique business model innovation by Deloitte Consulting which offers something for everyone. In its report titled ‘Unlocking the Value of Community Solar’, Deloitte argues, “Utilities are finding that shared solar allows them to grow their solar generation portfolios, developers are seizing the opportunity to expand their business offerings, and more customers have the chance to buy solar power. By unlocking value in each segment of the supply chain, community solar is evolving into a growth engine for distributed solar resources.”

Jeff Cramer, executive director of CCSA, added, “This new consumer guide should help American consumers take the next step towards solar independence and we appreciate SEIA’s leadership in developing it.”

The guide can be accessed here.