Community solar refers to a small solar array located within a community where multiple customers, including households, small businesses, churches, schools, and local governments, can subscribe to a portion of the solar array and receive a credit on their utility bill for their share of the power the solar panels produce. Community solar programs expand access to solar energy, avoid the large upfront costs of a traditional system, and provide an alternative to the traditional process of individuals and businesses placing solar systems on their property.
Many residents and businesses across Wisconsin cannot place solar systems on their property because they rent their space, have roofs that cannot host solar systems due to shade or type of structure, or they don’t have the funds for the upfront costs to install their own system.
Wisconsin has a limited number of utility-sponsored community solar programs, most are fully subscribed, and some utilities in the state don’t offer these programs at all. We need legislation in Wisconsin to offer community solar to all residents who want access to affordable renewable energy. Presently, 21 states have policies supporting community solar, with subscribers seeing immediate bill savings. Community solar provides cost-effective renewable energy, strengthens the resilience of the grid, and spurs economic opportunity.
Legislation (AB 258, SB 226) has been introduced in 2023 that would allow Wisconsinites access to community solar projects from non-utilities.