Supply chain issues. Permitting and zoning difficulties. Lack of market awareness. Community solar, as the fastest growing sector in the solar industry, is overcoming all of these with a unique business model and proposition to consumers (Blitterswyk 2022).
Since 2017, community solar has grown nearly 10x across the U.S., and the Department of Energy estimates that growth through 2025 could reach 8x (Ibid). That means, in the upcoming four years, the implementation of community solar will surpass that of all residential solar installations. Through 2025, this target would expand community solar by 25GW (Ford 2022). You read that right, gigawatts.
Raise Green is lucky enough to have one such project on our Marketplace, seeing Indications of Interest to support the mission of accessible community solar. WeSolar Energy, a Baltimore-based woman- and minority-owned social impact firm (the first of its kind!) is advancing access to solar throughout its communities. Currently, they’re seeking additional funds for a project in East Baltimore that would deliver a majority minority and low-income neighborhood clean solar energy at a discounted rate. Distressed and disadvantaged communities are often left out of advancement in infrastructure, and green infrastructure is no different. However, it is the mission of WeSolar to make sure these vulnerable communities are not left behind. Households with a WeSolar Community Solar subscription can save between 20-60% on their electricity costs while keeping their account with their existing utility. To date, WeSolar has installed and subscribed over 5MW of community solar — and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for their success. Kristal Hansley, the CEO and Founder of WeSolar, noted the ease that her organization has had in delivering these results. “We look forward to playing our part and becoming that pillar the community trusts. Allowing access to low-income families and to anyone with roof panels on their homes, you can actually tap into solar farms and get solar credits directly applied to your bill.”
And therein lies possibly the greatest challenge for community solar development in America: not supply chain woes or inflation, but awareness and trust. Customers in 39 states are now benefiting from community solar, but the vast majority of projects are emerging in just four solar friendly states (Blitterswyk 2022). While interconnection agreements with utilities are seen as a hurdle, Raise Green sees this as less impactful than the general lack of awareness for this critical solution. As a member of the Department of Energy's National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP), Raise Green is committed to contributing to NCSP’s target to enable community solar to power the equivalent of 5 million households and create $1 billion in energy bill savings by 2025. Far too few communities are aware that they can save a premium on their utility bills, while reducing their greenhouse gas footprint. Join us in getting the word out there, that clean energy isn’t expensive or challenging to develop. After all, who doesn’t want to save some dollars AND the planet?
Still not sold on community solar? Check out our last blog on the topic, where another Baltimore-based impact firm, the Climate Access Fund, is featured for their work to develop impactful local energy solutions.
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