Bowen writes how community solar is finally addressing clean energy's equity problem
It is no secret that the residential solar market is booming. Declining panel prices, the rise of third-party PPAs, and the spread of the Solarize model—these are familiar storylines to anyone with a passing knowledge of the solar industry. And those of us with a passion for clean energy are more than happy to share the good news.
But as we celebrate the extraordinary success of the solar industry, there is something missing from the conversation. Specifically, how do we share the benefits of solar more equitably? How do we ensure that solar is within reach of every American household, not just those who can afford to install panels on their rooftops?
Put simply: We talk about “grid parity,” but what about “grid equality?”
The good news is that we now have an answer to this question: community shared solar. Households can now buy a portion of an offsite solar array in their area and see a credit on their utility bill for the energy their share produces. Harnessed properly, community solar presents a real opportunity to address inequalities in the residential solar market in at least three ways.