10 Takeaways from the Community Solar Power Summit

10 Takeaways from the Community Solar Power Summit

Live Oak Bank’s renewable energy lending team traveled to Minneapolis, MN to attend the Community Solar Power Summit. The summit brings together leading community solar businesses, utilities, non-profits and policymakers. Melissa O’Buch, senior loan officer, offers her top 10 takeaways from the event produced by the Coalition for Community Solar Access:


  1. Churn is a four-letter word. A typical first-year churn of community solar garden residential customers is four percent, and every investor or financier will want a proposed solution. A waitlist is NOT the answer.


  1. Only three states have more than 50MW of community solar currently. The good news is that many states have adopted or are considering policies to increase that number.


  1. We need to fix the rate design issue. It’s either too rich for the customer and the utility doesn’t want to implement, or it’s too hard to sell and the developer can’t make it work. Operating in two states could mean having to know six different community solar programs.


  1. It is difficult to locate data and information for community solar gardens. Check out IREC’s website here.


  1. Community solar hotspot states include CA, FL and NJ. These states have new administration and new legislation coming in the future.


  1. Illinois recently hired their program administrator. The Future Energy Jobs Act will drive policy and community solar scale. The Solar for All program will drive low- to moderate-income scale.


  1. Active Community Choice Aggregators (CCA) appear to be aggressive and erupting in NY.


  1. The pendulum swings are daunting. In MA, the SREC II program was so successful that we now have the SMART program. In NY, the old style of net metering has now led to a complex value stack.


  1. 11 states have low- to moderate-income built into the community solar garden programs, but the rules aren’t helpful. We need to bundle offerings to those clients. It can’t be done in a vacuum.


  1. Net metering is available in 44 different states, but that means 44 different things. Many states are re-visiting. The community solar industry is dealing with similar issues. It’s all about the customer!


If you are interested in learning more about our renewable energy services, contact our team today. Reach Melissa O’Buch via email at melissa.obuch@liveoak.bank or by phone at (910)-550-2289.