By Forrest Watkins and Moh Abujmia
It is our mission and our daily work to bring solar energy to every American household. In the years since our founding, we’ve gotten to know intimately the barriers people face in trying to go solar, and we believe that we have an answer: community solar.
Community solar allows you to subscribe to a solar farm in your area and see credits on your electricity bill. You support local clean energy without putting anything on your property or paying any extra costs—and you save money in the process.
Here’s how community solar brings clean energy and savings to your household:
Community Solar is Solar for All
Every day, we hear from more people who have tried to go solar, but for one reason or another, are locked out of the market. A report from independent industry research group GTM Research found that 77 percent of American households are locked out of the solar market. Here’s why:
Prior to the invention of solar energy, a shade tree was a coveted commodity. Now, it can cost you thousands in energy bill savings. In order to work with rooftop panels, a roof has to be unshaded, south- or west-facing, and relatively new.
What’s more, condo owners and other residents of high-density housing are out of luck. There simply isn’t enough space on a single rooftop to power all of those homes.
With community solar, you don’t have to worry about any of these barriers—you support local clean energy without installing anything on your property.
Renters rarely have control over modifications to their rooftops, and even if they do, the long-term commitments required for rooftop solar financing make it a complicated proposition. Until recently, community solar contracts have been modeled on rooftop contracts and lasted up to 20 years.
Fortunately, the industry is headed in the right direction. Solstice is now offering our first six-year contract, and we’re pushing for contracts that are even shorter.
Community Solar for Low-income Americans
Our energy systems have always distributed their benefits and downsides unequally. And though solar energy has to date given disproportionate benefits to middle- and high-income Americans, community solar is poised to make solar energy accessible for populations in lower income brackets.
Many individuals with relatively high FICO credit scores (above 680), but who live on fixed incomes, are already seeing savings from community solar gardens. But for the more than half of Americans who have lower credit scores (or no credit score at all), community solar remains inaccessible. That’s why Solstice is working to develop alternative credit score requirements that more accurately represent a customer’s ability to pay their energy bill.
Community solar is already bringing savings to households across the country and helping to power our global transition to clean energy. But long contracts and credit scores are still significant barriers to full solar access. Solstice is already working to lower those barriers, ensuring that this new form of solar energy can fulfill its potential, and bringing solar to every American.