For Those With Shady Yards…

The Community Solar array in Rutland, VT.

The 150 kw Community Solar array in Rutland, VT.

The other day I, when I wrote about how it’s “Not So Complicated” for individuals to install solar arrays to power their homes and vehicles, I’m sure there were some readers out there who raised their eyebrows. Some of them must have thought that it can’t be quite as easy as I made it out to be. In some cases it is exactly that easy, but there are exceptions, because there are instances where it would be difficult or impossible to make a solar PV system work. A few of these situations come to mind right away—people who rent, instead of owning their home, or, people that own condominiums. Or, a house on the north side of a big hill (or the south side in the southern hemisphere), or a house with huge trees that shade the roof but that are too beautiful to cut down, or a house with a roof design that doesn’t lend itself well to the installation of solar panels. But, innovation to the rescue—there are new projects coming online that solve these very problems.

In fact, I drive past one of them nearly every day (picture above). It’s called a “CSA”, or “Community Solar Array”, and it was just recently built by NRG, in conjunction with Green Mountain Power (more info at NRG’s Community Solar page). The idea is fairly simple—people who want solar power but choose not to install it on their property can buy a “share” of a large array that is located nearby, and the power that is produced is tied to their house via net-metering. The financial arrangements vary from project to project, but the customer typically either buys a portion of the array outright, or leases a portion of it for a given period of time. In the array above, fifty GMP customers share the power, through a variety of lease options.

So, do you have a roof shaded by beautiful trees? Or do you rent? In more and more locations you can do solar anyway, though your “personal array” might be three blocks away and right next to 49 others. Hopefully, eventually, that option will be available to every utility customer, everywhere.