Community Solar Implementation Guide and Model for Rural Electric Cooperatives and Municipal Utilities in the Southeast

Raleigh, N.C. – (August 28, 2018) The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released an Implementation Guide for Community Solar in the Southeast and a community solar Economic Modeling Tool as part of the Community Solar for the Southeast project. The Community Solar for the Southeast project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office with a goal to expand shared solar projects developed by electric cooperatives and municipal utilities across the Southeast.

The Implementation Guide was an outcome of several working groups that examined unique issues faced by electric cooperatives and municipal utilities for deployment of community solar. The guide looks at three distinct issues impacting community solar in the southeast – i) innovative credit rate structures, ii) program design for solar plus storage, and iii) getting buy-in from local leadership.

“The implementation guide examines issues that are not currently addressed in the existing body of resources,” noted Brian Lips, Manager of the Policy Program the NCCETC. “The guide does not provide a single silver bullet to these issues, but provides a series of considerations that a utility can explore when considering them.”

The economic modeling tool, published as a part of the project, empowers the utility to conduct an initial feasibility screening of solar PV and energy storage for potential community solar projects.

“The model provides flexibility to analyze multiple scenarios such as the value of reducing coincident peak demand with solar PV and storage for coops and munis,” noted Oscar Llama, an energy engineer at the NCCETC. Existing solar performance tools are not customizable to the needs of coops and munis who have unique wholesale power contracts. This tool calculates both the energy values and the coincident demand reduction values for solar PV and energy storage. Accounting for the value of coincident peak demand reduction is critical since it is typically higher than the energy value for coops and munis.

The implementation guide and economic model can be great assets to utility staff, executives, policymakers and local advocates. These resources can be used to design a cost effective community solar program while balancing the needs of the utility and the community solar subscribers.

“During the second phase of the project, we will build off of these resources as well as the lessons learned from the technical assistance already provided to several utilities by the project team.” noted Isaac Panzarella, Assistant Director at the NCCETC.  The team will be reaching out to munis and coops throughout the Southeast to offer detailed customized technical support at no-cost, which will lead to even more community solar throughout the southeast.

The implementation guide, economic model, and other resources developed as part of the project can be accessed at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s website. Please reach out to community_solar@ncsu.edu for more information.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Helm, N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, 919-423-8340, shannon_helm@ncsu.edu

About the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies. For more information about the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, visit: http://www.nccleantech.ncsu.edu. Twitter: @NCCleanTech