Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have announced a new goal for community solar in the country: installing enough capacity to power the equivalent of 5 million homes by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings.
The target is also being pursued to help achieve the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2035 and ensure that all Americans see the benefits and resiliency provided by renewable energy equitably.
“Community solar is one of the most powerful tools we have to provide affordable solar energy to all American households, regardless of whether they own a home or have a roof suitable for solar panels,” said Secretary Granholm.
As for the scope of this undertaking; it’s no small project. According to DOE, there’s currently enough community solar capacity to power 600,000 households, meaning that this commitment will represent a 700% increase in capacity in roughly four years. For further context, consider that there is currently enough installed solar capacity in all forms to power roughly 19 million households across the United States, still 6 million lower than the 2025 goal.
The announcement has been well met across the by solar and energy equity advocates alike. The Coalition for Community Solar Access released the following statement in support:
“Today’s announcement from Secretary Granholm demonstrates the overwhelming support that’s building for the role community solar should play in transforming and strengthening our energy grid while expanding access to solar for all. DOE’s goal of 26 GW by 2025 is consistent with the accelerated growth that our research shows is needed for the community solar industry to meet our climate goals at the lowest cost.”
The statement acknowledged that there is significant work to be done, and that strong policies and goals are needed bring those benefits possible under this goal to fruition. IT also said that Congress and state policymakers should listen to the DOE and do their part to accelerate the growth of community solar so that a clean, cost-effective, and equitable grid can be built.
“I’m energized about the Department of Energy’s new goal, and I get more excited the deeper I dig into it,” said Kiran Bhatraju, founder and CEO of Arcadia, which manages a 500 MW community solar portfolio. “It’s fantastic to see the Secretary’s commitment to public education about how community solar can help people reap the benefits of clean energy, and to see her commitment to strengthening consumer protections and recognizing credible companies in the market.”
The goal was announced as a target under the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP), a coalition of community solar stakeholders; namely State, local and Tribal governments, solar developers, and community-based organizations. The group works to expand access to affordable community solar and break down the barriers that prevent Americans from having access to the resource. NCSP currently has more than 650 members from over 440 partner organizations.
Membership is set to grow as DOE is offering free, on-demand technical assistance to NCSP partnership members in order to meet the stated targets. This assistance will take the form of personalized support to each organization, helping to accelerate implementation, improve the performance of a program or project, and build capacity for future community solar development.
Follow the link to join the NCSP partnership.
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