- El Paso Electric requested approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas for a $6.7 million, 3 MW community shared solar installation adjacent to its Montana Power Station site. It asked for streamlined approval to bring the system online ahead of the 2016 termination of the 30% federal investment tax credit.
- The cost of the solar-generated electricity will be higher than customers’ rates initially, according to the utility’s commission filing. But with the rising cost of natural gas, subscribers are likely to see savings that continue over the 20-plus years of the installation’s production.
- El Paso Electric would sell blocks of solar capacity from 1 kW up to the customer's peak monthly usage, which is typically 3 kW to 10 kW. If an average subscription is 3 kW, approximately 1,000 customers can subscribe to the 3 MW array. Commercial customers will be limited to 1 MW.
Community shared solar offers subscribers without solar suitable roofs the benefits of owning solar such as reduced cost and long-term fixed-price electricity.
There are currently over 58 community shared solar arrays in 22 states and it is the “biggest trend” for solar at utilities, according to Senior Research Manager Becky Campbell, co-author of a recent Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) report on the topic.
New data in the DOE’s report "Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation" shows an estimated 49% of households and 48% of businesses are unable to host solar. “By opening the market to these customers,” it reports, “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.”