Today, on opposite sides of the country, diverse groups of citizens, businesses and nonprofit organizations launched community solar programs in Charlotte, N.C., and Salt Lake City. These grass-roots efforts are among the latest in a nationwide wave of “solarize” programs that aim to give community members easy and cut-rate access to home solar installations.
Both programs exclusively offer high-performance, American-made SolarWorld solar panels installed by skilled local contractors at volume-discount pricing.SolarWorld has a robust history of involvement in the community-solar movement. Since 2009, the company has partnered with solarize campaigns in 26 communities in four states to supply about 3 megawatts (MW) of American-made SolarWorld solar panels to nearly 1,000 families.
Today’s programs launching in Charlotte and Salt Lake City mark two important evolutions of the community solar concept. In North Carolina, a group called the Cleaner is Cheaper coalition, supported by more than 20 community, faith and grass-roots groups, kicked off Solarize Charlotte today with an emphasis on bringing clean, safe power to low-income communities and working families. Following the U.S. Department of Energy’s solarize model – formerly the province of early-adopting solar states on the West Coast – Solarize Charlotte is one of a new wave of programs bringing community-based solar to emerging solar markets such as North Carolina.
Meanwhile, the University of Utah today launched the nation’s first community solar program sponsored by a university. The U Community Solar campaign offers discounted solar panels and installations to university faculty, students, staff, alumni and campus guests. Administered by the nonprofit Utah Clean Energy, it includes an innovative feature: Participants in the U Community Solar program can give associated renewable energy credits stemming from their solar panels to the university, helping the university achieve its carbon-reduction goals.
“In this exciting period of the solar industry’s development, when crowd-sourcing is emerging as a viable community financing instrument, the solarize approach has established a proven track record and model to spark further innovation,” said Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., based in Oregon.
SolarWorld has supplied solar panels for community solar programs since the solarize concept was conceived by residents of a Southeast Portland neighborhood in 2009. In partnership with Solar Oregon, the nonprofit Energy Trust of Oregon, city governments, solar installers and the U.S. Department of Energy, SolarWorld has provided more than 2.6 MW of solar panels to 18 communities in Oregon alone.
The solarize movement soon spread to neighboring states. In Washington, where solarize programs are administered by the nonprofit Northwest SEED and supported by utilities Seattle City Light and Snohomish County Public Utility District, the company has supplied panels to five communities in and around Seattle since 2012.
Solarize efforts in both states continue today through Northwest Solar Communities, a multi-state organization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rooftop Solar Challenge.
For more information about Solarize Charlotte, visit: cleanerischeaper.com.
For more information about the U Community Solar program, visit: www.mycommunitysolar.org/ucommunitysolar.
SolarWorld REAL VALUE: SolarWorld manufactures and sells solar power solutions and in doing so contributes to a cleaner energy supply worldwide. As the largest solar producer in the United States and Europe, SolarWorld employs about 3,200 people and carries out production in Hillsboro, Ore., and Freiberg and Arnstadt, Germany. From the raw material silicon to solar wafers, cells and panels, SolarWorld manages all stages of production ‒ including its own research and development. Through an international distribution network with locations in the United States, Europe, Singapore and South Africa, SolarWorld supplies customers all over the world. The company maintains high social standards at all locations across the globe and is committed to resource- and energy-efficient production. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, SolarWorld was founded in 1998 and has been publically traded on the stock market since 1999. For more information, visit www.solarworld-usa.com.
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.