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by Emma Foehringer Merchant
February 22, 2019

By many measures, community solar is on the rise.

In the last year, it’s driven an outsized portion of solar growth. Though analysts are still finalizing numbers, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables forecasted community solar would be the driver of over one-third of annual solar demand in 2018. By 2023, analysts expect community solar to make up 30 percent of non-residential solar deployments.

Minnesota has so far dominated the sector, serving as the site for over half of all 2018 community solar installations in the U.S. But WoodMac also forecasts that by the end of 2020, the state will account for less than 5 percent of the market. Other states, where markets are emerging, will fill-in. Just this week, Democratic Florida State Senator Lori Berman introduced community solar legislation, and bills to create community solar programs advanced in New Mexico and South Carolina.

 

It’s within that context that consulting firm DEFG released its recent report on making community solar more accessible to low income customers. The working group for the report — comprising 60 participants including utilities such as Michigan’s Consumers Energy, community solar accessibility organization Solstice, and utility and corporation commissions from seven states and Washington, D.C. — received grants from sources including the Department of Energy, Illinois’ Commonwealth Edison and the embattled Pacific Gas & Electric to compile the findings. 

“There’s a lot of interest in wanting to bring together solar access for low-income communities,” said Judith Schwartz, the lead author of the repot and president of consulting group To The Point. “This goal of equitable access to renewables is a good goal that’s on the top of everybody’s mind, but how do you do it?” 

Wood Mackenzie and Vote Solar released a report last year on that very topic. The DEFG report adds to the body of knowledge on making solar more inclusive.