What is Community Solar?
Community Solar is any solar project or purchasing program that allows individuals, organizations, small businesses, municipalities and others to receive credit on their electricity bills for the power produced for their energy output. This type of project is usually less than 5 MW of electrical capacity and ranges in the number of acres needed. Community solar projects are typically built on leased land.
While rooftop solar is a viable option for some, installation can be costly and may not be available for everyone (i.e. renters, homeowners with tree shading issues, or older roofs). Community Solar however is accessible to anyone where State legislation permits and includes many economic, environmental, and social benefits.
First, economically, customers that purchase electricity from the projects are guaranteed a savings on their power bills. For landowners, leasing land to the solar project generates a long-term and predictable revenue stream that lasts the duration of the project lifecycle, which is generally 35 years. Finally, for the local community, additional tax revenue is generated along with the creation of both temporary and long term jobs.
Environmentally, aside from the production of clean renewable energy, the land used for the project is given an opportunity to regenerate in health similar to any land designated for the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The CRP provides substantial conservation benefits to land by protecting highly erodible soils, improving water quality, enhancing wildlife populations, providing pollinator forage habitat, and sequestering carbon in soil and enhancing soil productivity. When the solar panels are removed, the soil conditions should be much improved compared to the condition of the land when the panels were first installed.
Lastly, many Community Solar programs provide incentives to provide greater electrical savings for low-to-moderate income residents. This allows for historically disadvantaged residents to realize savings on electricity and take part in the cleaner environment.
SolarStone is currently in active discussions with landowners for Community Solar in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.