Community Solar Systems

  • The size and scope of community solar systems typically fall between rooftop systems and utility-scale systems. Community solar systems are larger than residential rooftop systems but usually smaller than utility-scale projects. The capacity of these systems is typically between 20 kW and 1 MW (enough to power between 4 and 200 homes).
  • Local cooperatives build, operate, and maintain their own community solar systems. Often these systems are located within the cooperative’s service territory. Smaller systems are most likely to be local. One advantage: members can actually see the system “in action.”
  • Ground-mounting is the most common installation method, although some community solar installations have been placed on top of parking garages and public buildings.
  • Ownership models vary, but in all cases, members who purchase solar through the cooperative community solar system receive credit on their bill for their share of the output from the solar system. The 2 most common ownership methods are:
    • Members may purchase or lease a portion or unit of the system
    • Members subscribe to a unit of capacity from the project – they don’t own any part of it
  • There are significant advantages to community solar projects for both the co-op and the member. These include being able to participate in solar even if your home is not suited to supporting a solar system or if you don’t want the upfront investment. Participating in a community solar program offers economies of scale. That is, it’s cheaper per unit to build a large system rather than a small one, and there is more flexibility for consumers to participate. Cooperative advantages also include the economy of scale and the ability to manage the power inputs to a greater degree