A new study reveals that community solar projects have the potential to impact between 3 million and 12 million households across the country. However, participation among consumers may lack as community solar projects are built simply because they don’t know about the opportunity. In fact, the new report by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and the Shelton Group based on a survey shows that 59 percent of respondents are attracted to solar power but only 20 percent understand what community solar is.
“Americans love solar — we’ve seen that in our research for years. Once educated about community solar — what it is, how it works — they also love community solar, and we see strong propensities for participation by a significant number of people,” said Suzanne Shelton, President and CEO of Shelton Group.
Traditional solar is simply not an option for many consumers who lack financial resources, do not own their home, have too much shade on their property. Community solar allows anyone to participate through a lease or subscription agreement, it is an ideal option for those who could not otherwise afford a traditional rooftop solar array.
“Community solar is a powerful tool for bridging the gap between the public’s broad interest in solar and making sure as many people as possible can plug into distributed, clean energy projects,” said Dan Chwastyk, SEPA's Utility Strategy Manager.
The survey shows that people who know about community solar are very interested. For instance, when Colorado’s Xcel Energy launched its first community solar project in 2012, the entire project sold out in less than 30 minutes. But in a previous survey conducted by SEPA 25 active community solar projects were evaluated to establish ways to attract more customers, showing that there’s potential but still a long way to go in terms of educating people about the opportunities of community solar.
Now that more options like community solar are emerging, other resources and guides are becoming available. Last summer, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) introduced a residential guide to help consumers understand options like community solar and seamlessly transition to renewable energy. For homeowners who prefer the idea of traditional rooftop arrays, SolarReviews.com sister site Solar-Estimate offers a unique solar estimator tool developed with support from the Department of Energy.Tweet