Middle Ground in Customer-Utility Relationship? Analyzing the Drivers of Variations in Deployment Models for Community Solar
42 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015
Date Written: March 30, 2015
Increasing penetration of residential photovoltaic (PV) systems has intensified concerns over the related impacts on utility revenue and the equity of deployment subsidies. Community solar (CS) has surfaced as an alternative deployment model for PV that could potentially mitigate these concerns, while integrating distributed solar PV. Given the potential that CS holds in stabilizing the customer-utility relationship amid deeper penetration of distributed solar, in this paper we combine four complementary datasets to analyze how policy, regulatory, and market factors impact the deployment of CS. Specifically, we present a detailed assessment of CS deployment in the United States, including pertinent insights relating to nameplate capacity, billing models, propensities of off-taker utilities to adopt different types of CS, and local market and policy drivers. We find that accounting for both underlying demand and policy/regulatory conditions is essential for understanding the nuanced connections between utility strategy and CS adoption. A particularly interesting finding, stemming consistently across the multiple data streams we analyze, is that utilities are motivated to develop CS not only to satisfy consumer demand or regulatory requirements for renewable energy, but also to alleviate revenue losses related to residential solar PV.
Keywords: Solar PV, Community Solar, Utility Business Model, Distributed Generation, Renewable Portfolio Standards, Net Energy Metering
JEL Classification: D21, L21, L94, Q28, Q40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation