Community solar is bringing the power of the sun to the masses. It enables groups of local businesses and residents to reap the rewards of clean electricity without the need to install panels on their roof. At least 19 states have picked up on this trend, here's a closer look at four states leading the pack.
The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program aims to support 1.6 gigawatts of new solar.
Local utility NRG1 has a dedicated program for community solar, with no up-front costs and credits on electricity bills.
The Community Solar Garden law2 requires its main utility, Xcel Energy, to set-up solar gardens for residents and small businesses to buy into.
Subscribers to solar gardens receive credit on bills for the power their panels produce.
The program hit a record 435 megawatts3 of operational capacity in September.
Colorado in 2010 became the first state to pass shared renewables legislation with its Community Solar Gardens Act4.
The state has more than 70 community solar projects5 in operation.
Incentives include credits on bills and exemptions on property taxation.
The golden state is pioneering something different: Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs).
CCAs enable local governments to make agreements with energy suppliers on behalf of their residents and businesses, giving the community greater control over their electricity sources.
Under CCAs, electricity prices can be as much as 20% lower6 than retail prices.
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