Support a community solar garden or help community members participate in a community solar project by:
a. Serving as a host site for a community solar garden. b. Facilitating development, by the municipal utility or other entity, of a community solar garden for residents. c. Participating in a community solar garden to ensure accessibility and availability to low-income residents.
Like a community garden, or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription arrangement, Community Shared Solar or Community Solar Gardens (which are the same thing) specifically refer to projects whereby subscribers receive an electricity bill credit (of no more than 120% of their average usage) for the electricity generated at one centrally-located photovoltaic panel installation in proportion to the size of their subscription. Local jurisdictions can host a community solar garden and make a portion of the energy produced available to local residents. The City of Edina project is a good example of how this works.
Solar can also provide long-term financial relief to families struggling with high and unpredictable energy costs, living-wage jobs, and a source of clean, local energy sited in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by traditional power generation. See the Low-income Solar Policy Guide description for Community Shared Solar, also known as community solar or solar gardens, that can “help address the physical and financial barriers of going solar for those who do not own their home or have a suitable roof, or who live in multifamily housing.”
Describe the city's role in a community solar garden project (e.g. leasing roof space, promoting the availability of subscriptions, hosting community conversations about community solar, providing guidance for pollinator habitat on the site, etc.). Report city government subscriptions to a community solar garden and green tag purchases under BPA 15.2; report brightfield projects under BPA 25.5; report third party solar purchases under BPA 26.5; report community solar gardens located in the city but without involvement of the city under BPA 26.6.
Describe how the city facilitated development of a solar garden to ensure availability to local residents and businesses; report number of participants, installed capacity in kW and cost data.
Describe a deeper role the city/municipal utility played in developing a solar garden and making it accessible to low-income residents(e.g., donating government land, leasing government roof-space for minimal fees, serving as a back-up subscriber, issuing a request for proposals for low-income accessible gardens, working with your local Energy Assistance program).
Who's doing it
Detroit Lakes - 3 star
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Starting in 2017, Detroit Lakes Public Utilities offers participation in a community solar garden. The City owned, operated, and maintained solar panels make it easy for businesses and residents to purchase renewable energy generation. In January of 2020, Detroit Lakes Public Utilities will offer 100% renewable energy purchases through its Bright Energy Choices program.
Capture The Sun® is the program at Moorhead Public Service (MPS) that is associated with MPS’ Community Solar Garden Projects.
A “community solar garden” is a collection of solar panels shared with customers who are unable to install and maintain a solar panel system of their own, such as customers with shaded roofs and those who have structures not suitable for solar panels.
MPS' Community Solar Garden is located between MPS’ two Capture The Wind® turbines in north Moorhead.
SOLARCHOICE is a city of Saint Peter program. This community solar is a way to benefit from solar without installing it on the rooftop of properties. Saint Peter now has a Community Solar Garden with thousands of panels. This is an easy way to join the solar movement at a level that is affordable to the people. It allows users/customers the opportunity to gain a level of price certainty by locking in the cost of a portion of future energy usage.
While only 25% of rooftops are suitable for solar installations, community solar provides an equitable way to allow those want more solar to get it without impacting those who do not.
In coordination with MMPA, the City of Arlington rolled out its Clean Energy Choice program. Arlington’s supplier, MMPA, will provide 1 kWh from its Oak Glen Wind Farm, Hometown BioEnergy, or Hometown Wind to the power grid for each kWh that is purchased. At this time, our residential customers can purchase renewable, sustainable energy for a premium of just $0.0175 per kWh for their actual household usage. (If you use 750 kWh/month, that’s an additional $13 per month on your utility bill.)
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Participation in this program is voluntary and on a month-to-month basis. There are no contracts to sign, and no long-term commitment.
Since inception in early 2015, 1% of Arlington's customers have signed up for the service.
Oakdale supported bringing the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's successful bulk purchase program to Minnesota in 2018. The Solar Twin Cities program allows residents and businesses across the Twin Cities area the opportunity to aggregate their solar purchase power to achieve program milestones that result in rebates that make solar more affordable for participants. Oakdale hosted two Solar Power Events at City Hall to allow residents and non-residents alike the opportunity to learn about what solar power is, and how they can participate in the bulk buy program. There was also an opportunity for residents to have their utility bills analyzed by the Citizen's Utility Board, and education on energy efficiency from Center for Energy and Environment. Oakdale will host future cycles of the Solar Twin Cities program as available.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
In this initial offering, Solar Twin Cities secured solar installations totaling 261.84 kW worth of capacity in 35 locations across the metro area.