By MAUREEN MCINTYRE July 1, 2015
The explosive growth of solar around the United States and the world has surpassed the expectations of even the most optimistic solar supporters. It’s certainly surpassed mine!
Many home and business owners are jumping on the solar bandwagon and purchasing or leasing systems. But what about people who live in an apartment, have no solar access at their sites, or just don’t like the look of solar panels on a roof? Will they be left out of the solar party?
Fortunately, the answer is a resounding “no”—any interested person can buy solar power without hosting a system. Community or shared solar is an increasingly popular business model for deploying distributed solar technology. The details differ from place to place, but opportunities abound. See “Community Solar Resources,” for a sampling of the resources available to help you find a community solar project in your area. Or, if shared solar isn’t happening yet in your area, we’ve included resources that can help you and your neighbors make it happen.
Another unique and exciting way to support solar is to:
- Join the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and
- Move some of your money to the new Clean Energy Federal Credit Union when it’s up and running.
As Amanda Bybee explains in “Building the Clean Energy Federal Credit Union,” every dollar that a member deposits in the proposed Clean Energy Federal Credit Union helps another member finance a clean energy product or service. Organizers expect the new credit union to open in early 2016, and in order to join you will have to be an ASES member. Why not cross that off your to-do list today and join ASES?
The city of Boulder, Colorado, is taking another approach to shared clean energy—activists and city officials are working to municipalize its utility grid, which is no small feat. As Tim Schoechle tells it in “Community Solar: The Utility of the Future,” organizers hope the result will be an economy that runs on clean, local energy and helps mitigate global climate change by reducing carbon emissions and serving as a model for other communities.
In Harrisonburg, Virginia, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) takes its core values of sustainability and creation care seriously. In “A Net Metered Solar Project Benefits All Ratepayers,” Tony Smith describes EMU’s solar photovoltaic (PV) installation and its effects on the local utility and community. Some utilities argue that adding distributed solar to the grid, especially if it is net metered, shifts costs to non-solar customers. Smith’s analysis finds the opposite—that EMU’s PV system produces benefits for the school, the utility, and the larger community.
ASES intern Madelion Brinkley gives us a preview of SOLAR 2015, the 44th ASES conference, which will be held in State College, Pennsylvania, July 28-30, 2015. “Expanding Horizons: Shaping the New Energy Economy,” offers conference highlights. Join other solar professionals, researchers, and advocates at SOLAR 2015 for networking, learning, and festivities.
Finally, this will my last issue as editor and publisher of SOLAR TODAY. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the smart, dedicated, passionate people who make each issue possible, but I’ve decided to pursue a new opportunity in clean energy communications. I hope to continue working closely with old and new solar friends and colleagues to ensure that clean, reliable, renewable solar energy is available to everyone.
Maureen McIntyre is the editor and publisher of SOLAR TODAY.