Shared solar news: Summer 2014

Shared solar is growing in popularity in the US and abroad. Here’s some of the latest news from across the nation. 

From Nebraska to Massachusetts to California, the community-owned renewables revolution is gaining momentum. 

  • Community solar benefits an entire groupPalo Alto hopes to benefit from shared solar. The city’s utilities issued a Request for Proposal to establish a community-solar project. The utilities explained, “the primary objectives for the program are 1) to help facilitate reaching the City’s target of meeting 4% of its energy needs from local solar energy by 2023 (from 0.7% in 2013), and 2) to give all of its customers – including those who rent and those without sufficient solar access – the opportunity to experience and derive benefit from cost-effective local solar development.”
  • Chances are good that Palto Alto will receive plenty of interest in their request. Lincoln Electric, based in Nebraska, has already received nearly 80 proposals for its community solar project.
  • Harvard, Massachusetts recently welcomed a shared solar project owned by 43 households and four businesses.
  • Austin, Texas plans to install its first community-owned solar farm on a 26-acres the city owns.
  • We often refer to shared solar installations as solar “farms.” New research shows just how well solar panels can be paired with agricultural land. While this is great news for farmers who want to own their own panels, it’s also relevant for community groups and co-ops who understand the importance of local renewable energy and local food production.
  • As climate change increases the frequency of violent storms, community-owned micro-grids can help hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods weather the storm. Connecticut has lead the way, Julia Pyper explained, ”after a severe snowstorm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people for up to 10 days. Rather than spend $19 billion to put power lines underground, the state approved an $18 million investment for nine microgrid projects, which are currently in development.”

In addition, the New York Times has taken note of the shared solar revolution. They write, “The combination of plummeting prices for solar equipment and installation and generous federal and state incentives has widened their appeal. The Energy Department is encouraging their spread, publishing a guide to best practices in 2010, and is weighing proposals to award $15 million in grants to help design community projects.”

This post originally appeared on Community Renewable Energy’s blog.

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