Solar: It Takes a Community

There’s an exciting buzz around Community Solar initiatives across the country, and EnterSolar is currently looking at programs in select states that offer strong economic incentives for Community Solar systems.

You may be wondering…what is Community Solar?

Community Solar is a shared renewable system in which a neighborhood or community pools investments to take advantage of a singular solar power source.  The system is built, owned, and operated by a third party who supplies the energy and collects the state and Federal incentives that make Community Solar a lucrative investment.

There are many reasons to be excited about Community Solar. 

A National Renewable Energy Laboratory study found that only 22% to 27% of residential buildings are suitable for hosting an on-site solar system due to financial, structural, or shading issues.  That means that a majority of homes are not suitable for solar. Since Community Solar does not involve on-site systems and allows both homeowners and renters to participate in investments, these homes can now take advantage of the benefits of solar power.

Community Solar breaks the perception that solar power is an expensive and unattainable resource.  Low-income residents, who would not have the adequate finances to invest in an on-site system, can partake in community solar shares.  Non-profit organizations, who do not have tax appetite, can also take advantage of solar power in community solar systems. Community Solar thus offers those residents and organizations clean, renewable energy when they otherwise could not invest in solar.

Communities can also boast sustainability and job-creation as major benefits, along with the savings on electricity bills.

For those owning the system, Community Solar projects are an attractive investment for businesses and landowners who have unused land or roofs.  New York and Massachusetts both offer strong state incentives for the investor, including solar renewable energy credits, the 30% federal investment tax credit, and net metering credits.

Let’s do this!

EnterSolar is actively engaged in Community Solar developments, and looks forward to sharing more information in the coming weeks on how these programs can work in various states throughout the country.  We look forward to introducing these initiatives to new and existing clients.

In the meantime, if you have access to land or roof space that might be suitable for solar, or would like to know more about Community Solar, please contact Dennis Phayre or Clark Wallace or call us at 1-888-225-0270.

Share This Post

    The Clock is Ticking – Why Your Business Should Consider Going Solar Now (Before Federal Incentives are Curtailed Next Year)

    Since 2006, commercial solar projects in the U.S. have been eligible for a federal solar incentive known as the Section 48 Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) which provides a 30% federal tax credit. This tax credit delivers system owners a dollar-for-dollar reduction in cash income taxes that would otherwise be paid to the federal government, in an amount equal to 30% of a solar project’s cost basis.

    The 30% ITC has been the primary tool used to promote solar in the U.S., and has been wildly successful, with total annual US solar installations increasing from only 106 megawatts (“MW”) in 2006 when the ITC was introduced to 6,201 MW in 2014, according to data from GTM Research’s U.S. Solar Market Insight.

    Despite its success, under current law, the 30% ITC will step-down to only 10% at the end of 2016.  For businesses considering the economic feasibility of solar (which any business interested in saving money and reducing risk should be), the clock is ticking; there are only 20 months left before the ITC is significantly curtailed, so companies need to act now or risk leaving substantial solar savings on the table.

    Whether your company is considering going solar with one of the numerous “no-capex” alternatives that are currently available – such as Solar Operating Leases or Solar PPA’s which provide immediate cash savings and long term pricing certainty with no investment required – or through direct system ownership options, time is of the essence, with maximum benefits accruing to solar systems that are placed into service no later than the end of 2016.

    For many of our clients, the due diligence and decision-making process can be quite long, with corporate approval time frames frequently exceeding six months.  And once approved, large-scale commercial solar projects can take anywhere from 6 months to over 18 months, depending on the type of installation (ground mount systems require more time than rooftop systems) and the specific jurisdiction.

    The key takeaway is that prudent corporations considering major commercial solar projects should move expeditiously in order to fully capitalize on the attractive but fleeting 30% federal ITC.

    Curious how you can leverage these Federal incentives? Contact us today at or 1-888-225-0270.

    Share This Post

      Why Plummeting Oil Prices Help Solar

      Since last June, when global oil prices began their precipitous slide from over $110 a barrel to less than $50 a barrel, we have had numerous corporate clients ask how this phenomenon will impact the solar industry at large, and more specifically, how the decline in oil prices will affect the economic returns associated with onsite solar photovoltaic projects.

      The short answer is that oil prices have very little direct impact on solar, and perhaps counter-intuitively, in many parts of the U.S., the slide in oil may actually improve solar project economics.

      The first takeaway is that solar projects “compete” with the retail price of delivered electricity (i.e. the kilowatt-hours that are no longer purchased from the grid when clean solar electricity is generated onsite), whereas in the U.S., oil is primarily used for transportation.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA), only 1% of electricity is derived from petroleum in the U.S., with coal (39%) and natural gas (27%) comprising the largest sources of electricity generation.  So while oil price volatility has a huge impact on transportation economics (and related technologies like electric vehicles), it has negligible direct impact on electricity prices.

      OK, but how can these free-falling oil prices be good for solar?  Interestingly, in much of the U.S., the marginal price of electricity is driven largely by the price of natural gas.  And to a large degree, the recent abundance of natural gas in the U.S. (and its extremely low pricing) is a result of the significant increase in “fracking” activity, where wells targeting oil often harvest natural gas as a by-product.  As global oil prices have declined, the economics for new oil fracking wells have deteriorated sharply.  And as the number of active fracking wells is reduced in the U.S., the supply of by-product natural gas from these wells will shrink, which we believe will lead to higher electricity prices, which in turn will lead to improved solar project economics.

      Going forward, whether electricity prices are whipsawed by future natural gas price volatility, or the increased need for utility investment in transmission & distribution lines, or the additional regulatory costs for coal generators – onsite solar generation can “immunize” businesses from this risk by providing long-term certain power pricing (often at kWh rates that are below current spot market rates).


      Share This Post