If your city doesn’t currently have the means to participate directly in developing a community solar project, you still have the option of working with your utility or your state legislature to create new opportunities. In this situation, reviewing the “Project Manager” portions of this guidance will help you understand what actions a project manager would need to consider, which may help you advocate more effectively. In addition, you may wish to review the model program rules created by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and consider how to most effectively engage with your local utility. Contact the American Cities Climate Challenge team for more information on utility-engagement best practices.
Another option is to consider subscribing to a nearby community solar project for RECs only. In this model, a subscriber agrees to purchase the RECs (i.e., the green attributes of the energy), but not the energy, from a community solar project in a nearby utility service area. While this option will not change the mix of actual electricity delivered to your city’s distribution system, it can be preferable to buying RECs on the open market. Buying RECs from a nearby project will be more visible and may bring economic benefits to the local community. For more information, you can review the experience of Madison, Wisconsin, with subscribing to the RECs of a community solar project.