Community Solar Gardens
Community solar gardens are arrays of solar panels built in a central location. Members of the community near and around the CSG have the opportunity to buy their electricity from these arrays by purchasing a share of the community solar garden, similar to purchasing a CSA share from a farmer.
Faith communities are taking action to harness the power of the sun with community solar gardens to help mitigate climate change, create equitable clean energy jobs, and provide solar energy for all! MNIPL's new Just Community Solar Coalition is working with Cooperative Energy Futures, a solar developer, to build a Community Solar Garden on Shiloh Temple in North Minneapolis.
The Community Solar Garden Opportunity
Xcel Energy’s community solar garden program debued in December 2014. Already, there are more than one gigawatt's worth of applications to develop community solar gardens. Most solar developers are focused on corporate and institutional subscribers, seeking to profit from the opportunity without giving much thought to the local values and needs of the community.
MNIPL's Solar Team wants to change that. The new Just Community Solar Coalition, a collaborative of MNIPL's Solar Team, is coordinating the development of the Shiloh Temple Community Solar Garden, a project which exemplifies to MNIPL's community solar values statement.
Benefits of Community Solar Gardens
Easy Access to Solar Power at a Lower Cost. Community solar gardens allow people to do two things. Take advantage of solar energy for as little as a third of the cost of a regular electricity bill, and avoid the hassle of installing solar panels on one's home or business. CSGs also allow for renters and owners with poor southern sun exposure to access solar energy.
Reduce CO2 pollution and the impacts of climate change. According to the Energy Information Administration, Minnesota households used on average 817 kWh of electricity per month in 2013, which translates to as much as 1,700 lbs of CO2 released into the atmosphere. This number is reduced somewhat by Minnesota’s increased use of wind power, which currently comprises 16% of all generated electricity in the state. The explosive growth of the solar industry, primarily through CSGs, can help to reduce these CO2 emissions even further. When we consider the full cost of coal, which includes what we pay as a society in harmful side effects to our health, solar costs half as much as coal per kWh to develop and operate.