Certainly, as a homeowner, I am strongly in favor of allowing and encouraging individual homeowners to establish private solar systems to generate electricity.
However, a substantial majority of residents will not be able to install their own individual solar systems due to several serious problems which get in the way, including lack of financial resources; lack of control/ownership over structures/areas for photovoltaic systems; physical “barriers,” such as trees, other buildings or orientation(s); etc.
But a quick look on Maryland’s Eastern Shore reveals an already existing solution to many problems: the shared community solar array. This solution is being used by Glassywing Community Solar Farm in Dorchester County and at Easton Solar in Talbot County.
This shared solar array concept is also an important part of the Delaware General Assembly’s recent passage of Senate Bill 298 to strongly encourage solar/other green electricity-generating solutions. Along with an increase in the net metering/electric interconnection cap, community solar arrays in this legislation were designed to help propel us further into the 21st century and benefit all community members with more affordable electricity costs.
Obstacles to shared solar arrays can be overcome. As a poignant example, the city of Seaford “found” the million-plus dollars it needed to build its own solar array to help power its water and wastewater treatment system. While the money for this project came from taxpayers, the city chose not to share the reduced-cost electricity with these same taxpayers.
In my mind, Seaford and other communities would be proud of a shared community solar array generating reduced-cost electricity for a substantial number of citizens, if located in blighted areas, such as the ex-Nylon Capital Shopping Center complex or the former Whispers nightclub located in Seaford. Just imagine, eliminating blighted eyesores and generating lower-cost electricity at the same time. Sounds like killing two birds with one stone.
In summary, shared community solar arrays already exist on the nearby Eastern Shore of Maryland. Some communities, like the city of Seaford, have already invested in solar arrays. In Delaware, the net metering cap has been substantially enlarged to permit connections of shared arrays with the grid. Delaware and federal governments are actively encouraging (i.e., with money) development of clean/green alternative electricity-generation sources, such as shared solar.
The time is right for action to help all/most citizen small users to share in cheaper solar electricity by investing in shared community solar array projects!
I look to community leaders to take action to provide all citizens access to shared community solar arrays as soon as possible.