Community solar programs can allow apartment occupants and others who cannot install their own solar systems to purchase and benefit from clean solar energy. A 2015 Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Lab report estimates that nearly half of all consumers and businesses are unable to install their own solar photovoltaic systems for a number of reasons. They may not own their building or have access to sufficient, sunny roof space. Community solar expands access by allowing customers to rent or own a set of panels in a shared solar project and receive a credit on their utility bill based on their share of the generated power.
Cities should work with the electric utilities serving their areas – whether municipal or investor-owned – as partners in unlocking the potential of solar energy. Since utilities manage energy supply and have existing relationships with customers in their service area, their full cooperation in a solar effort can be hugely beneficial.
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