Shared solar (also called community solar), is a model of solar energy development that makes solar more affordable and accessible for local residents, organizations, and businesses. By subscribing to a shared community solar energy system, customers receive energy credits from specific panels on their monthly electricity bill, reducing the total cost of their energy consumption. It also allows these local stakeholders to work together to help boost the local solar industry in their communities.
Join the Shared Solar Summer kick-off event, Shared Solar 101, HERE!
Shared solar is a great way to increase access to affordable solar energy for everyone in a community. Because panels are located off-site, anyone who doesn’t own their building, doesn’t have a suitable site for solar, or doesn’t have financing for their own solar system can still benefit from solar power in an efficient and economical manner. This provides equal access to solar to anyone who pays an electricity bill. In particular, shared solar is a great way to expand solar access to low-income individuals who live in multi-family housing developments.
Unfortunately, shared solar programs are not available in Southwest Virginia. This is because the state does not require any Southwest Virginia utilities to provide shared solar programs for their customers. The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia is working with partners across the state to address this issue in the 2022 Virginia General Assembly session.
If you are interested in learning more about shared solar and helping to support the rights of Southwest Virginians to adopt solar energy, sign-up for the Shared Solar Action Team!
However, not all shared solar programs focus on the community’s best interests. In Virginia, Appalachian Power and Dominion Energy utilities are allowed to offer “community solar” pilot projects, but four years after the programs were created by the General Assembly, neither utility has opened up these program options to customers and no projects have been built.
Shared solar owned by private developers is the best option for ensuring local community access to shared solar. Interested residents and local businesses can be the driving force to make projects happen in their communities, and opening up project development to private developers means customers are getting the best price possible for their project.
For more information on shared solar, check out the Coalition for Community Solar Access!