Navigating the Changing Landscape of Community Solar in Delaware: Policy Designs and Governance Frameworks to Support Community-Owned Sustainable Energy
Center for Energy & Environmental Policy Technical Report, 2020
142 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 21, 2020
Using case studies of community-owned solar generating facilities in 11 states (namely California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island) and the District of Columbia, this report investigates policy and governance processes for designing community solar strategies. For this report, we use the term ‘subscriber-based’ when the passive role of bill payers mostly defines the nature of the ‘community’ in a project. We use the term ‘community-active’ when communities and their members have active roles in governance and administration, normally expressed through local government sponsors. Our research finds that most programs and projects underway in the U.S. have a ‘passive’ concept of community. Importantly, while most states deploying community solar projects have adopted subscriber-based policies, installed community solar capacity based on community-active forms of development is fast-growing and appears to already exceed the volume of solar power generation created by nationwide subscriber-based community solar. In just three years (2016-18), the community-active model has grown by more than 350%. California has been a leader in the design and spread of this model with its community choice aggregation programs having installed 3.56 GWp of solar power in the state, which generated over 5.77 TWh of solar between 2012 and 2019. Massachusetts' Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs are estimated to have installed solar plant capacity of about 130.29 MW. This solar power capacity generated 182,406 MWh of solar electricity during 2012-2019. By contrast, non-CCE community programs installed 92.71 MW, which annually generates 129,794 MWh. Thus, community-active solar initiatives in just two states have outpaced solar power development by a factor of three in 36 states using subscriber-based approaches (which together have only built 1.3 GWp). Additionally, solar programs, including community-active solar, create a material number of jobs. Using experience in the community-active solar market to date, we estimate that if Delaware Senate Bill 250’s target of 40% renewable energy generated electricity, with 10% from solar that includes a community-active solar carveout, is met by 2035, it will result in 21,000 job years in 15 years of development. In other words, a new continuing solar workforce of about 1,400 employees statewide will exist as a result of the bill's new [solar + community solar] portfolio carveout.
Keywords: Community Solar, Community Choice Aggregation, Municipal Aggregation, Solar photovoltaic, Community Energy, Distributed Generation Electricity, Policy Design, Governance
JEL Classification: P11, G18, H70, J15, K23, L1, N7, O2, O33, P48, Q2, Q4, R1, R58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation