Distributed Energy Resources

National Community Solar Partnership Launches Initiatives to Support Community Solar Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership recently launched a slate of initiatives to support the deployment of community solar projects.

Community solar allows any household to access the benefits of renewable energy, with an emphasis o those that cannot access rooftop solar, DOE noted.

DOE’s National Community Solar Partnership launched the Community Power Accelerator to bring together investors, philanthropic organizations, developers, community-based organizations, and technical experts to work together to get more equitable community solar projects financed and deployed.

The Accelerator will support developers with technical assistance and a Learning Lab to build a pipeline of verified, credit-ready projects that will connect with investors seeking to fund community solar in disadvantaged communities.

The Community Power Accelerator and its $10 million prize will leverage private-sector financing commitments to help community-based organizations and other mission-aligned project developers access financing and build community solar projects, particularly in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities.

Financial institutions and philanthropic organizations participating in the Accelerator have committed $5 billion in private sector financing for projects that are credit ready.

The Community Power Accelerator Prize is a new competition that will provide pre-development funds to organizations to build the expertise, experience, and capacity required to develop community solar projects at scale.

DOE is also launching a new campaign to highlight the connections between solar energy and its long-term benefits, beginning with community solar.

DOE said that community solar will play a vital role in supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative to ensure that every community benefits from the clean energy transition and in achieving the President’s goals of a 100% electric grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Inflation Reduction Act established tax credits for solar energy projects, including a 20% bonus credit for solar power projects that sell their electricity to low-income households. This tax credit could support up to 18 GW of additional community solar projects over the next 10 years, DOE said.

The National Community Solar Partnership is working to increase community solar installed in the United States to 20 gigawatts.

In 2020-2021, the American Public Power Association partnered with the National Community Solar Partnership on the Municipal Utility Collaborative to identify and address common barriers to community-based solar for public power. 

APPA joined the National Community Solar Partnership in 2020.