Leading energy companies in the solar market have announced the formation of the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), the first-ever national trade association for community solar. The Coalition’s founding leadership includes Clean Energy Collective, Community Energy, Ecoplexus, Ethical Electric, First Solar, and Recurrent Energy.
CCSA is a business-led trade organization that works to expand access to clean, local, affordable energy nationwide through community solar. Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by individual community members, who receive credits on their electricity bills for their portion of the power produced. Community solar projects provide American homeowners, renters and businesses access to the benefits of solar energy generation unconstrained by the physical attributes of their home or business, like roof space, shading, or whether or not they own their residence or building. These programs can also expand access to solar energy to low-income households.
“Community solar is the necessary next step to bringing solar to the majority of Americans for whom solar is not yet an option,” declared CCSA Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “We’re meeting a growing need with a coordinated, collaborative approach that will help expand the American solar market benefitting both consumers and business.”
“CCSA is responding to the ever-growing consumer demand for solar. Our companies are hearing from customers who want to go solar but are limited by shading, roof space, or other factors,” said CCSA Board Chair Hannah Masterjohn of Clean Energy Collective. “And we hear every day from community leaders, utilities, clean energy advocates and policy makers across the country who are interested in expanding access to affordable clean energy in their communities. As a coalition of experienced community solar providers, CCSA will be the go-to resource for those leaders to help them establish successful programs.”
Community solar is a rapidly growing market with immense market potential. A recent NREL report outlined that market potential of up to $16 billion in investments and up to 11 GW of cumulative installed capacity through 2020. Successful community solar models are operating across the country with a beneficial role for all parties in the partnerships forged between subscriber, developer, and utility.
CCSA will work in partnership with consumers, local stakeholders, and utilities to promote smart policies and innovative program models to give all Americans in every community the ability to directly benefit from clean, affordable, and reliable solar power. CCSA’s initial goals are: to open markets in key states; serve as the resource for policymakers, utilities and advocates who seek clear, practical options for establishing community solar programs; and to be the messenger to highlight the growing success of the community solar market.
Initially, CCSA will target several key states in 2016, including New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland, and broaden its reach as the organization and the community solar market grows. The coalition will work with legislators, regulators and utilities to help develop fair policy and regulatory frameworks to drive sustainable growth for community solar. Through this collaborative approach, these states can deliver not only the economic and environmental benefits of solar to their citizens, but can create good-paying, long-term jobs in their communities.
“We are already working closely with other national and local solar groups to promote broader access to community solar, and our voice will complement existing efforts,” declared Board Member Joel Thomas of Community Energy. “Solar is a rapidly growing industry employing over 200,000 Americans and serving over 750,000 customers nationwide. Our combined efforts will help expand the opportunity for all Americans to have access to and meaningfully benefit from solar energy.”
Each CCSA member company has agreed to adhere to a set of nine “Core Principles” for developing effective community solar policies and programs, including the importance of access to solar for all consumers, economic benefit to customers, customer choice, and consumer protection.
“We are partnering with other solar organizations, utilities and advocates to help promote the growth of solar broadly and intelligently,” said Board Member Eran Mahrer of First Solar. “Our message is simple, ‘If you want access to solar energy, you should have that option, regardless of where you live.’”
“Ultimately, our work is about expanding access to solar for homeowners, renters, and small and large businesses through community solar programs,” declared Board Member Sandy Roskes of Ethical Electric. “We will help create new opportunities for all consumers to choose the clean, affordable, and reliable options for solar power that are right for them.”