What Would Expand Utility-Led Community Solar in the Southeastern US?

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2021-05-28

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Abstract

Community solar (CS) expands access to the benefits of solar energy by overcoming many of the challenges associated with residential solar ownership. Installing rooftop solar is not an option for an estimated 77 percent of the U.S. population. The CS model allows individuals and businesses to own or subscribe to a portion of an off-site solar facility, thus avoiding large upfront costs and the hassle of home installation. Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMCs) and municipal utilities (munis) have a unique opportunity to advance CS development. Unlike investor-owned utilities (IOUs), EMCs and munis are democratic entities which are accountable to their constituents, not to shareholders. Thus, consumer demand should play a larger role in driving CS development at local utilities than at IOUs. Whether consumer demand does play a larger role, however, is a question that has been largely unexplored. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) is interested in understanding the contributing factors behind CS development at EMCs and municipal utilities in the Southeast. The organization’s goal is to make solar accessible for all Southerners, and CS is one component of this mission. Through a mixed-method approach of interviews, surveys, and quantitative analysis, this report explores the drivers of CS development in the Southeastern U.S. and outlines recommendations on how SELC can help advance solar for all.

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Parsonnet, Myra (2021). What Would Expand Utility-Led Community Solar in the Southeastern US?. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23223.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.