Community Shared Solar
Deploying solar energy is seen as a key strategy to reduce the environmental impacts of energy use, but deploying solar energy in traditional rooftop applications has been found to disproportionately benefit the wealthy. A promising model to more equitably deploy solar is community shared solar (CSS), now adopted through legislation in over 15 states and adopted voluntarily in an increasing number of utilities. We're studying how these programs create value for participants and can better serve low-income communities.
Members of the Chan Lab submitted comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on methodologies for calculating the avoided distribution cost component of the Value of Solar Tariff. The comments review existing and proposed approaches in Minnesota and other methodologies applied in other states.
Xcel’s community solar garden program, now with over 500 MW of active projects, has a complex cost-recovery mechanism. Bills in Minnesota’s House (H.F. 2625) and Senate (S.F. 1891) would make changes to the community solar program. Gabe testified on the ratepayer impact of the community solar program. Also available at the link below is an accompanying spreadsheet that shows referenced calculations to understand the ratepayer impact of the program on Xcel customers.
Members of the Chan Lab submitted reply comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on the calculation of the Value of Solar Tariff for 2019 that reimburses subscribers in Xcel's community solar program. The comments discuss calculations of the total cost of the community solar program based on the value of solar.
Members of the Chan Lab submitted comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on the calculation of the Value of Solar Tariff for 2019 that reimburses subscribers in Xcel's community solar program. The comments discuss the calculation concepts and procedures of revising avoided cost estimates in the Minnesota regulatory process.
What is the best way to deploy solar energy to maximize clean energy growth while equitably sharing benefits? A promising model is community shared solar, which enables energy consumers to purchase shares of electricity generated in an offsite project. Noting how different states and utilities have approached program design, we explore how design decisions affect access to solar and the equity of cost and benefit sharing. We conclude with a set of questions for future research.
Gabriel Chan, Isaac Evans, Matthew Grimley, Ben Ihde, and Poulomi Mazumder. 2017. “Design Choices and Equity Implications of Community Shared Solar.” The Electricity Journal 30(9): 37-41.
SHARING THE SAME SUN: ANALYZING LOW-TO-MODERATE INCOME SOLAR SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR COOPERATIVE ENERGY FUTURES
Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF) is an energy efficiency and clean energy cooperative based in South Minneapolis and serving members across Minnesota. They develop community solar gardens (CSS or community solar) in Xcel Energy’s community solar program. Because CEF doesn’t perform credit checks or income verification with their customers, the Chan Lab worked with CEF to develop a methodology to verify their customers’ average incomes through geographic and statistical analysis.
Members of the Chan Lab submitted comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on the concept of a residential adder to the Value of Solar Tariff that reimburses subscribers in Xcel's community solar program.
Community shared solar (CSS) is an emerging approach to
deploying solar energy that seeks to expand the market for solar to electricity customers who do not necessarily have appropriate roof space or access to capital. CSS allows customers to own, finance, or lease a share of an offsite, centralized solar facility.
As of March 2018, Minnesota has 33 utility- or developer-led CSS programs, totaling over 300 MW, making it the state with the most CSS in the country.
Community shared solar (CSS) is an emerging approach to increase solar energy deployment and broaden access to its benefits, with the potential to address the disproportionate "energy burden" faced by low-income households. We are studying CSS programs in six states to understand the diversity of approaches being taken to broaden access to community solar for low- and moderate-income households.