New Organization Aims to Give All Americans an Opportunity to Go Solar

For clean energy to truly go mainstream, it needs to be available not just to corporations and a select group of homeowners, but to everyone. The vast majority of Americans support expanding the use of clean energy, and many would appreciate the opportunity to directly enjoy the cost savings and other benefits of solar and wind power.
Community solar offers consumers a chance to do just that. Even if a person isn’t a good candidate for traditional rooftop solar – they are renters, for example, or their roof doesn’t get enough sun – community solar programs let them buy a stake in a solar installation elsewhere, and get a credit on their power bill for their share of the energy produced. However, such programs require new legislation at the state and local levels.
As this CityLab article reports, a new organization was launched last week which will help advocate for community solar nationwide. Called the Coalition for Community Solar Access, the group aims to “pool the resources of the various community solar providers to create industry best practices and lobby at the community and state levels for policies that will help the market grow.”
Solutions like this can help clean energy continue its massive expansion, and speed the inevitable transition to a low-carbon future. People want to know their efforts can make a difference, and community solar puts the ability to fight climate change in everyone’s hands.

The Community Solar Industry Gets a Voice of Its Own

By Julian Spector, editorial fellow at CityLab
A new national organization will push to make it easier to get solar power when it can’t go on your own roof.
It used to be that if you couldn’t afford to install solar panels, you couldn’t get energy from them. The same happened if you didn’t own a house to put panels on, or if you lived in a condo where the roof wasn’t yours to develop. That started changing in 2006 with the birth of “community solar,” which allows people to buy a stake in a solar installation elsewhere and earn credits on their electricity bills for the energy it produces.
But community solar can’t just happen on its own—it requires a brave new world of utility policy changes that are too complicated for the average consumer to understand. And the nonprofits and solar companies advocating for changes had a tough time balancing their daily work with the additional work required to drive new legislation at the local and state levels.
That’s why a group of community solar providers banded together this week to launch the Coalition for Community Solar Access, which will spearhead nationwide advocacy for the kinds of policies needed for this market to grow.
“Solar is really still available to a select class of energy consumers,” Executive Director Jeff Cramer tells CityLab. “What community solar offers is the opportunity to go solar for literally all Americans.”
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AP Photo / Jim Mone

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