Cooperative Energy Futures solar project, Minnneapolis, Minnesota

Clean Energy

Community-Owned Community Solar: Opportunities and Challenges

This report examines existing community-owned community solar projects to identify key concepts and lessons for a more equitable, decentralized, clean energy transition.

Community-owned community solar promotes a more equitable, decentralized, clean energy transition. Communities can produce electricity rather than purchasing it from large utilities or meeting the requirements for rooftop solar.

This report is a resource for both advocates interested in furthering beneficial policies and for community organizations who are potentially interested in investing in community-owned community solar projects.

US map with stars in California, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, and Maryland indicating community-owned community solar projects case studied in this report

Map of example community-owned community solar projects and organizations

As the devastation of climate change and other negative effects of fossil fuel consumption become more visible than ever, communities are pushing for a transition to low- and zero-carbon energy sources, including solar. However, despite its widespread societal and environmental benefits, renewable energy does not inherently promote equity. Traditionally, solar energy has been owned by either wealthy individuals or utility monopolies. Now is the
time to think creatively about improving the energy system more holistically, rather than just replicating long-standing problems with new technology.

This report examines ownership models, benefits and their distribution, and barriers for building community-owned community solar. It draws on research and interviews with representatives from groups including People Power Solar Cooperative (CA), Cooperative Energy Futures (MN), Hough Block Club (OH), Co-Op Power (MA), and University Park Community Solar (MD).


Community Benefits of Renewable Energy (Courtesy of Lyn Benander)

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