New community solar report finds huge economic potential for Michigan families, farmers and small businesses

A new study from GTM Research found that community solar offers an enormous and untapped opportunity to serve 288,000 Michigan households and businesses across the state with affordable and reliable power. The Vision for U.S. Community Solar: A Roadmap to 2030, which was produced for the non-profit groupVote Solar in partnership with GRID Alternatives and the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), shows how community solar in Michigan could be a main driver of solar deployment in the state, expanding low-cost and reliable energy choices for more residents.

Full Report: The Vision for U.S. Community Solar: A Roadmap to 2030.

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“The vast majority of Michiganders support expanding the state’s commitment to clean energy resources like solar, recognizing that more clean energy means lower utility bills, greater energy independence, and a healthier environment for our kids and communities. We urge lawmakers in Lansing to use this report as a tool to advance community solar legislation,” said Becky Stanfield, Vote Solar’s Senior Director of Western States. “GTM Research’s report underscores the opportunity of community solar to finally give Michigan residents the freedom to choose to get their energy from a reliable, affordable and local solar project.”

GTM Research's study found that community solar could also offer substantial utility-bill savings for 176,000 low-to-moderate income families in Michigan by 2030. Today, however, Michigan lacks the policies necessary to fully enable families, farmers and small businesses to take advantage of the option to lower bills with community solar. The Community Renewable Energy Gardens Bill, HB 5861, would bypass the state’s inertia on solar by enabling community solar.

Michigan is one of 31 states that lacks statewide policy-enabled community solar programs. The Vision Study found that well-designed state policies and market-enabling programs would substantially increase customer adoption while spurring the overall transition to a clean, smart and resilient grid.

Affordable solar energy is giving families, businesses, schools and many others a way to lower energy bills and invest in America’s new energy economy. However, physical and financial barriers prevent up to 75 percent of consumers from going solar on their own rooftops – families who rent, have shaded rooftops, or don’t qualify for standard financing solutions, for example. Well-designed community solar programs give customers like these a way to go solar and save by enabling them to participate in a shared solar installation located somewhere else in their community and receive a credit on their utility bill for their share of the power produced. Thanks to pent up customer demand, community solar has become the fastest growing segment of the U.S. solar market with over one gigawatt of installed capacity nationwide, a number that could grow to 57-84 gigawatts by 2030 according to the new report. This equates to serving nearly nine million new solar customers, including four million low-to-moderate income customers, and amounting to $120 billion in capital investments.

“Well-designed community solar programs in MI could serve over 100,000 LMI customers by 2030, offering significant benefits, economic opportunity and job creation for Michigan’s highest need communities,” said Tom Figel, Policy and Regulatory Manager for community solar with GRID Alternatives.

“This report makes it clear that community solar is ready to scale and play a meaningful role in Michigan’s overall energy mix. Industry stands ready to fulfill pent up customer demand and unlock the robust potential of local, clean community solar this report demonstrates is possible at scale,” said Jeff Cramer, Executive Director of Coalition for Community Solar Access. “Now we need state policymakers and regulators to enable smart community solar programs that bring tangible economic benefits and expand solar access to all customer types, from low-income families to major businesses. If they do, it will create a win-win-win for customers, Michigan’s grid, and the environment.”

The Vision for U.S. Community Solar: A Roadmap to 2030, the report’s executive summary and more information about community solar nationwide is available here

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About Vote Solar: Since 2002, Vote Solar has been working to lower solar costs and expand solar access. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Vote Solar advocates for state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy. Learn more at www.votesolar.org

GTM Research is now Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. With an unparalleled level of depth, our integrated power, solar, wind, storage and grid edge market intelligence services enable you to make strategic decisions and forge the path toward a decarbonized and decentralized electricity market.

Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) is a national Coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand customer choice and access to solar to all American households and businesses through community solar. Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credits on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced.  Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business. Community solar expands access to solar for all, including low-to-moderate income customers, all while building a stronger, distributed, and more resilient electric grid.  For more information, visit our website atwww.communitysolaraccess.org, follow us on Twitter at @solaraccess and on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/communitysolaraccess.

About GRID Alternatives

GRID Alternatives is a national leader in making clean, affordable solar power and solar jobs accessible to low-income communities and communities of color. Using a unique, people-first model, GRID develops and implements solar projects that serve qualifying households and affordable housing providers, while providing hands-on job training. For more information, visit www.gridalternatives.org.

 

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