The U.S. Department of Energy announced several new initiatives to unlock barriers to the deployment of community solar. These initiatives were announced today at the National Community Solar Partnership.
Together, these initiatives will help achieve the NCSP’s target to enable community solar to power the equivalent of 5 million households and create $1 billion in energy bill savings by 2025. The initiatives supporting this pathway include:
- A collaboration among states, engaging nearly half of the states and the District of Columbia, which will support expansion and development of new community solar programs at the state level. This collaborative will be made up of state energy officials and program administrators and by providing best practices, technical assistance, and opportunities for direct peer-to-peer learning.
- The Credit Ready Solar Initiative, which will help community solar developers have better access to project financing. This initiative will bring together lenders, philanthropic institutions and community solar developers — especially those that are community-based or serve low- to moderate-income households — to create standard processes and a marketplace for deploying project capital.
- A $2 million NCSP Technical Assistance program, which is offered on a rolling basis at no cost to NCSP partners and provides personalized support to help them accelerate implementation, improve the performance of their program or project and build capacity for future community solar development.
The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) announced a commitment to developing 20 GW of community solar capacity by 2025 at the summit. The CCSA, representing the U.S. community solar industry at the summit, is aligning development plans with the DOE’s intent to enable enough community solar to power 5 million American homes.
“Today, over 80 community solar providers from across the country announced a commitment to build more than 20 GW of community solar by 2025. The industry is ready to help DOE meet its ambitious community solar goals,” said Jeff Cramer, president and CEO of CCSA. “With the combination of DOE’s NCSP initiatives and the adoption of other critical actions by state and federal policymakers, industry can meet this goal and satisfy pent up demand, save American consumers and businesses money, create local jobs, enhance grid resilience and protect the environment and community health.”
The community solar industry experienced a record-breaking year of growth in 2020. Early surveys of construction and development anticipate continued expansion of the sector pending supporting policy approval. Along with its commitment, CCSA urges policymakers to remove barriers and incentivize deployment in parallel to the industry’s work to enhance and evolve its community solar products for rapid expansion. CCSA recommended a set of seven actions to drive the goal of 20 GW by 2025:
- Implement federal funding and tax incentives for community solar projects by passing the Build Back Better Act and the Community Solar Consumer Choice Act.
- Mobilize 10 new states to create third-party community solar programs for a total of 31 states and the District of Columbia with programs by 2025.
- Increase the sizes of existing programs to meet pent-up customer demand and achieve the lowest-cost, most resilient electric grid.
- Improve upon technical and cost barriers to interconnection through integrated grid planning, appropriate incentives and proactive policy.
- Build and train a skilled local workforce to fulfill the thousands of new family-sustaining jobs that will be created across the country to build and operate the new projects.
- Enhance the standard of bill savings for customers with low to moderate incomes and build avenues that increase awareness of and participation in community solar projects.
- Continue evolving community solar products to ensure customers can easily and readily participate, save money and drive the development of more solar in their communities.
More than 75% of American households do not have access to solar power because they either do not own their homes or their roofs are unable to host a solar system. Through community solar, people can connect to a shared local solar installation that would provide subscribers with equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation through energy bill credits.
Research demonstrates that rapid acceleration of distributed energy resources like community solar will be necessary to meet U.S. climate and clean energy goals at the lowest cost, including analysis commissioned by CCSA as well as the DOE’s own Solar Futures study.
“The Department of Energy’s effort to catalyze public awareness and resource availability will play a key role in achieving this goal for U.S. community solar growth,” Cramer said. “We know customers want local solar energy and we commit to do our part to accelerate the growth of community solar so we can build a clean, cost-effective electric grid that works for all Americans.”
News item from Coalition for Community Solar Access