Companies launch first US community solar trade group
- The first national trade association for community solar in the U.S., the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), was launched earlier this week.
- CCSA will work in partnership with consumers, local stakeholders and utilities to work toward policies and program models that will expand access to community shared solar.
- CCSA's initial goals are to open markets, inform policymakers, utilities and advocates, and highlight successes and best practices. This year, the association plans to start by targeting emerging markets in New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland, eventually branching into other states out as opportunities spread.
As community solar grows, its first trade group aims to push the model further forward in emerging markets.
Community solar gives consumers who otherwise might not want or have access to rooftop solar the opportunity to own or lease shares of larger, centrally-located solar arrays while netting credits on their electricity bills for their portion of the solar generation.
A National Renewable Energy Laboratory report estimated 49% of households and 48% of businesses are currently unable to host a PV system.
“By opening the market to these customers, shared solar could represent 32% to 49% of the distributed PV market in 2020, thereby leading to cumulative PV deployment growth in 2015 to 2020 of 5.5 GW to 11.0 GW, and representing $8.2–$16.3 billion of cumulative investment," the report said.
Advocates argue economies of scale make community solar a more cost-effective way to give consumers access to solar-generated electricity. The resource is expected to grow 59% annually over the next five years, reaching a 2020 installed capacity of 534 MW, according to GTM Research's U.S. Community Solar Market Outlook 2015-2020.
CCSA’s founding businesses include Clean Energy Collective, Community Energy, Ecoplexus, Ethical Electric, First Solar, NRG Energy, and Recurrent Energy. Each CCSA member company will follow nine Core Principles in the development of community solar policies and programs. Central to those values are the protection of solar access, economic benefits, choice, and protection for all consumers.