National Community Solar Partnership

National Community Solar Partnership

The National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) is a coalition of community solar stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every American household by 2025. This partnership will develop multi-stakeholder teams to convene around specific goals, provide technical assistance for unique local challenges, and develop an online community platform to support information exchange.

The program was announced on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.

Approach

To meet these goals, NCSP provides an array of national and local stakeholders — state, local, and tribal governments, utilities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and others — the tools and information they need to design and implement successful community solar models. The partnership will provide these through three major activities:

Network Infrastructure: Partners have access to an online community platform, virtual and in-person meetings, webinars and other tools to engage with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) staff and each other.

Technical Assistance: Partners have access to technical assistance resources from DOE, its National Laboratories, and independent third-party subject-matter experts for support on unique local challenges.

Collaboration: Multi-stakeholder teams of partners form groups around specific goals to address common barriers to solar adoption by learning from each other and sharing resources.

The program will provide support to multi-stakeholder teams for 18 to 24 months so that they can achieve specific goals under a particular topic. To start, the partnership plans to focus on the following topic areas:

Developing community solar models that enable adoption in underserved communities
Community solar models that reduce energy bills for those living in multifamily affordable housing units
Utility partnerships around community solar models to expand solar access in their communities

Objectives

The program has three broad goals:

– Make community solar accessible to every U.S. household
– Ensure community solar is affordable for every U.S. household
– Enable communities to realize supplementary benefits and other value streams from community solar installations

Background

COMMUNITY SOLAR

We broadly define community solar to include any solar project or purchasing program, within a geographic area, in which the benefits flow to multiple participants (individuals, businesses, nonprofits, etc.). According to analysis by the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), nearly 50% of households and businesses are unable to host rooftop solar systems. Expanding access to community solar options helps connect more Americans with clean energy for the first time. Community solar allows renters, tenants, and residents to access solar energy regardless of where they live or the suitability of their rooftop. This allows more people to offset monthly energy bills while increasing their community’s resiliency, enhancing workforce opportunities, and spurring economic development.

EXPANDING ACCESS TO SOLAR

Certain underserved markets, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) populations, nonprofit organizations, and other community-serving entities, such as municipal governments, still face significant barriers to affordable solar deployment. A report from NREL that analyzed the recently competed Solar in Your Community Challenge identified three main takeaways from the challenge:

Clearly understand how federal, state, and local policies enable local solar projects.

Build durable and long-term partnerships with community members and solar stakeholders.

Develop a creative portfolio of financing solutions for small- and medium-size solar projects.

NCSP builds on the successes of the Solar in Your Community Challenge to support the replication of new and existing community solar models by partnering with diverse stakeholders across the country that are interested in expanding affordable access to solar. Learn more about the origins of NCSP here.

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