Lack of Access to Solar in Low-Income Communities Could be Solved with Community Solar

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Operations Specialist of Green Home Systems comments on how community solar can aid in spreading the clean energy movement.

Community solar allows members of a community the opportunity to share the benefits of solar power.

Community Solar can be the key to expanding solar energy to communities that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Low-income communities in the United States often have the most trouble with sustainable practices. This issue is primarily due to institutional and socioeconomic obstacles that affect so many Americans.

Solar energy is a big investment that is tough for many people to afford because of the upfront cost. In addition, it typically requires you to own your own property, and have a roof that meets strict requirements needed to install solar panels. So despite the long term financial benefits, the traditional way of installing solar is out of reach.

Florida realized this dilemma, and the state has instated one of the many national efforts to tackle it. The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater utilities, approved the Florida Power & Light Co.’s SolarTogether program. The new program is determined to provide 1,490MW of solar in 20 new solar plants by mid-2021. This impressive goal will be reached with community solar.

A community solar project is a solar power plant that provides electricity to more than one property. The primary purpose of community solar is to allow members of a community the opportunity to share the benefits of solar power even if they cannot or prefer not to install solar panels on their property. Community solar allows people to go solar even if they do not own property/roof, making it an attractive option for renters or those who live in shared buildings.

Project participants benefit from the electricity generated by the community solar farm, which costs less than the price they would ordinarily pay to their utility. For this reason, community solar provides an opportunity for low-income households to benefit from green energy.

Through 2018, there have been over 1,500 megawatts of community solar installed in the U.S. The project in Florida will be the largest community solar program in the US, more than doubling the amount of community solar in the country. If more programs like this continue to pop up, it provides a great opportunity for renewable energy to grow at exponential rates, and allow the U.S. to reach more clean energy goals that may help in our climate crisis.

Companies that focus on efficiency, like nationwide solar company Green Home Systems, are able to provide renters and landlords the opportunity to make the switch to renewable energy generation for a community. As a solar provider for both residential and commercial projects, they are able to meet the needs of each home at a scale for a community solar energy system.

Frances Nolan, the operations specialist for Green Home Systems, specializes in guiding people as to what model of community solar to select. Some models include utility-sponsoring, on-bill crediting, or special purpose entity (SPE) model. “Each person or community is different and our process is always tailored to the specific needs of the project, especially when talking about community solar. This is a new way to spread the clean energy movement and we’re excited to help everyone interested,” Nolan says.

Nolan suggests that when it comes to community solar energy systems, it is best to find a company that can do both residential and commercial since it will facilitate the process from start to finish for everyone involved. Green Home Systems can be that company and can work with utility companies who are looking to implement community solar programs.

Community Solar can be the key to expanding solar energy to communities that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. Hopefully more programs like the SolarTogether program will be set up in the near future to make this a reality.

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Emily Jackowitz

Karina Martinez
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