Like a growing number of Americans, the Goldbergs decided to invest in a community solar project. Solar-paneled picnic shelters in their neighborhood’s Jefferson Park feed the local electricity grid. The couple purchased two of the solar units, and now receive credits on their electric bills for their portion of the solar power produced.
Much like a P-patch provides plots for people lacking their own planting space, emerging community gardens “open up solar’s benefits to the masses,” said Kate Laursen, a spokeswoman for SunShare, a community solar developer with gardens in Colorado and Minnesota.
Overall, she noted, more than three-quarters of households in the U.S. are unable to install a rooftop solar system on their own home. But for residents in at least 24 states, according to a June report published by market analysis and advisory firm GTM Research, community solar gardens are emerging as an option. In fact, power generated by community solar in the U.S. is predicted to more than double between 2015 and 2016, as more states, utilities and companies get on board. (New rules promoting community solar, for example, are expected to be finalized soon in Maryland.)
Momentum may have been further catalyzed earlier this month in Paris, where 195 nations agreed to a global accord to phase out climate-changing fossil fuels.
“This shows that the world is on board to solve this massive challenge. Now we have to bring the work home and make as much progress locally as we can to meet the commitments agreed upon in Paris,” said Jodie Van Horn, director of Sierra Club’s Ready for 100% campaign, which is focused on the deployment of clean energy solutions. She highlighted San Diego’s commitment, announced on Tuesday, to move entirely to renewable energy in the next 20 years.