Coalition for Community Solar Access Unveils Policy Guide to Expand Solar for All

November 15th, 2016

New Tool Provides Actionable Policy Recommendations for Developing Community Solar Programs in Communities Nationwide

La Quinta, California (November 15, 2016) – The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), the national trade association for community solar, today released a first-of-its-kind community solar policy decision matrix. The new tool provides specific recommendations to policymakers about the most effective ways to develop community solar programs in communities nationwide.

Unveiled as regulators from states across the country discuss the evolution of the nation’s electric system at the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in La Quinta, California, CCSA’s policy decision matrix provides detailed guidance on what works best in developing community solar programs. The matrix also provides rationale for CCSA’s recommendations, and sample language to aid in drafting policies, drawing on the depth of experience of CCSA staff, member companies and non-profit partners in developing such programs.

“Community solar is a nascent industry, but we’re growing fast,” explained CCSA Executive Director Jeff Cramer. “With this tool, CCSA is providing actionable recommendations to policymakers seeking to develop successful community solar programs in their states and localities. The “why” of community solar is simple: It is the way to make solar an option for the 80 percent of Americans who aren’t able to put solar on their own roofs. But the “how” – updating some of the outdated rules of our electric system to properly account for these new local power sources can be complex. This decision matrix is intended to help guide policymakers in designing programs that work for their communities.”

Community solar programs exist to provide access to affordable, renewable solar energy to the millions of American residential and commercial customers who can’t install solar on their own premises due to roof size, shading or because they rent their home or business. With this new tool, CCSA is providing specific guidance in the development of policies to close that gap and help to ensure that all Americans who want to can benefit from solar energy.

CCSA’s policy decision matrix is divided into five sections: program structure, compensation, consumer participation, project characteristics and low-moderate-income considerations. It guides policymakers through important “key questions” to ask when developing community solar programs. To answer these questions, the matrix provides a menu of options, focusing on those that will spur market development while providing choices to customize programs to meet a state’s needs and goals.

Key questions to ask relating to program structure, for example, include: What types of entities should be permitted to own and/or manage projects? Should there be a preset size for community solar programs?

The policy decision matrix builds on efforts of other stakeholders working in this space, including the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), and brings the perspectives of CCSA’s more than two dozen member companies front and center.

CCSA’s policy decision matrix unveiled today is intended to be the first version of a reference guide that will be updated as community solar programs expand and take root in new states. CCSA will continue working with its member companies, stakeholders and others to ensure that policymakers nationwide have the tools they need to help ensure solar access for all.

The Policy Guide can be viewed on the Resources page of the CCSA website here.

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About the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA)

Founded in February 2016, CCSA is a business-led trade organization that works to expand access to clean, local, affordable energy nationwide through community solar. Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by individual community members, who receive credits on their electricity bills for their portion of the power produced. Community solar projects provide American homeowners, renters and businesses access to the benefits of solar energy generation unconstrained by the physical attributes of their home or business, like roof space, shading, or whether or not they own their residence or building. These programs can also expand access to solar energy to low-income households. For more information on CCSA, visit the website at www.communitysolaraccess.org, like the Coalition on Facebook at www.facebook.com/communitysolaraccess and follow the Coalition on Twitter at @solaraccess.