Luskin Center Releases New Guide for Designing a Community Solar Program

Luskin Center Releases New Guide for Designing a Community Solar Program

Posted on

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 2:46pm

Report CoverThe Luskin Center for Innovation’s new report Guide to Design Decisions for Utility-Sponsored Community Solar surveys community solar programs from across the country, and provides readers a decision-making resource to better understand the choices that go in to designing a community solar program.

Community solar programs continue to emerge across the country as a viable policy option for the expansion of solar access and environmental equity, as well as an opportunity for economic development. Over the last two years alone, community solar programs have nearly doubled in number, with 42 utility-sponsored community solar programs now active. Community solar offers a solution to those residents who cannot install solar due to structural constraints or ownership issues (e.g. residing in an apartment or condominium). The concept is fairly simple: an administrating entity will cover the cost of installing a large solar array and recoup these costs by allowing co-investors to buy into the project. Coinvesting participants then receive the virtual benefits from their share’s solar energy production.

We recommend a community solar program designer keep three important principals in mind as they think through the design process. First, the program should entice a sufficient amount of participation to recover some portion of program costs. Participation will often be driven by the program’s perceived investment opportunity; that is, the benefits accrued over time by the participant versus the cost of participation. Second, the program should have the support of non-participating ratepayers, as this group may need to shoulder some portion of program costs. And third, the program should have buy-in from the community as a whole. Decisions made at each stage of the design process – siting, construction and operation, retail design and annual program administration – will influence these three principals and ultimately determine the success of the program.

 Read the full report here.

 

Report CoverThe Luskin Center for Innovation’s new report Guide to Design Decisions for Utility-Sponsored Community Solar surveys community solar programs from across the country, and provides readers a decision-making resource to better understand the choices that go in to designing a community solar program.