Not long ago, solar energy was relegated to a small number of homeowners able to shoulder the burden of high cost panels. However, much has changed in recent years, and developments in technology, lowered price points, and more accommodating utilities have opened the door for communities across the country seeking access to clean energy.
One of the choke points for developing the solar grid has been that many people simply don’t own their homes, or live in apartments. Without homeownership, and with prohibitive start-up costs, solar has been out of reach for many Americans. In 2006, a new movement began to give residents access to community solar—allowing people to buy a stake in off-site solar infrastructure.
Community solar offers hope for those without the traditional means and requirements to take advantage of clean energy. And advocates of community solar just gained a strong ally this week, as the Coalition for Community Solar Access was just launched. Bringing together partners from across the solar industry, the group must now work with cities and utilities to facilitate the growth and adoption of community solar.
It used to be that if you couldn’t afford to install solar panels, you couldn’t get energy from them. The same happened if you didn’t own a house to put panels on, or if you lived in a condo where the roof wasn’t yours to develop. That started changing in 2006 with the birth of “community solar,” which allows people to buy a stake in a solar installation elsewhere and earn credits on their electricity bills for the energy it produces.
But community solar can’t just happen on its own—it requires a brave new world of utility policy changes that are too complicated for the average consumer to understand. And the nonprofits and solar companies advocating for changes had a tough time balancing their daily work with the additional work required to drive new legislation at the local and state levels.
That’s why a group of community solar providers banded together this week to launch the Coalition for Community Solar Access, which will spearhead nationwide advocacy for the kinds of policies needed for this market to grow.
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