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By: Kevin Fitzwilliam

For six years until 2015, Louisiana offered the most appealing tax credits in the country for homeowners looking to install residential solar energy systems on their homes. Since the elimination of those tax credits, the demand for residential solar energy in the state has diminished to a trickle. In that same time, a new way for homeowners to participate in solar energy has emerged in other parts of the country. It is called community solar, and it allows participation of citizens who would love to support solar energy but are unable to make a private investment in a residential solar system on their roofs. A utility agrees to either supply power or purchase power from a massive solar field consisting of several hundred or several thousand solar panels. Any customer of that utility would be eligible to participate in the solar community program by either purchasing or leasing a solar panel or a “block” of a few panels. The customer would then receive compensation for the energy production generated by the community-solar subscription. The energy produced from the solar panels could not directly receive routing to those homes, of course, but instead, it serves an addition onto the same grid that all of the utility customers share. Community Solar, then, provides a way for the folks left out of the solar game for a litany of reasons – unsuitable roofs due to shade or style, questionable credit scores, fear of investing in residential solar, or renters who do not have the authority to make decisions on a building they do not own and to get involved.

Interested in learning more about community solar? Email me at info@atlasbeads.com.

Kevin Fitzwilliam is a Fellow with Environmental Entrepre- neurs and is the owner of Atlas Handmade Beads, a New Orleans company helping to move the Gulf South beyond plastic beads (atlasbeads.com). He can be reached at info@atlasbeads.com.