-- This program is inactive. The National Community Solar Partnership was redesigned and relaunched in September 2019. --


Running from 2015-2016, the National Community Solar Partnership leveraged the momentum in the public and private sectors to expand solar access to new markets (demographic and geographic) and convene relevant stakeholders to assess market barriers and catalyze deployment in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. In order to help reach this goal, the SunShot Initiative launched the Solar in Your Community Challenge on November 18, 2016. Learn more.


The National Community Solar Partnership worked to expand solar access to all Americans, with specific emphasis on serving LMI households. The Department of Energy (DOE) led the Partnership, in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), bringing together key representatives from solar companies, non-profit organizations, state and community leaders, and financial institutions. The Partnership worked on topics relevant to the overarching mission including: greater utilization of existing federal and state resources, sharing of best practices at the state level, development of new financing arrangements and business models, new approaches to customer acquisition and community building, and multifamily deployment considerations. The White House announced the Partnership on July 7, 2015. 

The Partnership’s goal was to help unlock community solar’s potential for economic growth across the United States. A recent DOE and NREL report estimates that nearly 50% of consumers and businesses are unable to host photovoltaic (PV) systems due to a number of factors. These consumers and businesses include those that do not own their building (i.e., renters) and/or those that do not have access to sufficient roof space (e.g., high-rise buildings, multi-unit housing, malls). Shared solar is one approach to expanding solar access to these customers, and could represent 32%–49% of the distributed PV market in 2020. This could lead to cumulative PV deployment growth of 5.5–11.0 GW by 2020, representing $8.2–$16.3 billion of investment.  National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) Guide to Community Shared Solar provides a framework for the development of this model for solar deployment in communities.

The White House formally kicked off the partnership at a meeting on November 17, 2015. 

Working Groups

Finance and Business Models - This group researches the business models that successfully finance community and shared solar. The group examines de-risking LMI customer participation in shared solar, the role data sharing could play in reducing investor concerns, and which utility ownership models and incentive programs have been the most successful. In addition to developing case studies that articulate the financial challenges, this group plans to convene a meeting of philanthropic donors who could potentially fund pilot programs to demonstrate new business models for LMI communities.

Community Building - This group focuses on understanding customer acquisition methods to drive participation in shared solar. The group has been developing a tool that evaluates and scores the benefits of a community solar project for each key stakeholder involved, specifically targeting project developers, utilities, community-based organizations, project financiers, local policymakers, and academics. The ability for each stakeholder to understand the value of a project will improve transparency, communication, and inclusion in the project development process, assist in the monitoring and evaluation of projects, and facilitate smarter regulatory processes.

States Best Practices - This group delves into current state policies and regulations for community solar around the country. Through regular meetings and webinars, the group is looking to better understand how state policies enable shared solar and how do they differ from other states. They are also examining best practices and challenges associated with states expanding access to community solar, including how state policies have encouraged LMI participation in community solar. The group aims to compile the successes of several states.

Federal Resources - This group focuses on federal funding programs and explore how existing programs can support community solar. These programs span across several agencies including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Energy. This group is compiling the successes of entities that have successfully used federal funds to develop community solar projects.

Partnership Members as of September 12, 2016

Bishop Paiute Tribe - Bishop, CA
California, State of
Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board - Syracuse, NY
Colorado, State Energy Office - Denver, CO
Connecticut Green Bank - Rocky Hill, CT
Cook County Department of Environmental Control - Chicago, IL
District of Columbia, Department of Energy and the Environment - Washington, DC
Erie County Department of Public Works - Buffalo, NY
Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism - Honolulu, HI
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Massachusetts, Commonwealth of
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center - Boston, MA
Minnesota Department of Commerce - St. Paul, MN
National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Golden, CO
New York, State of
Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources - Providence, RI
Savannah River National Laboratory - Aiken, South Carolina 
U.S. Department of Agriculture - Washington, DC
U.S. Department of Energy - Washington, DC
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Washington, DC
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Washington, DC
Vermont Public Service Department - Montpelier, VT

NC Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University - Raleigh, NC 
University of Houston - Houston, TX
University of Maine - Orono, ME
University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, MN

BARC Electric Cooperative - Millboro, VA
Grand Valley Power - Grand Junction, CO
Pedernales Electric Cooperative - Johnson City, TX
Sacramento Municipal Utility District - Sacramento, CA
Tucson Electric - Tucson, AZ

Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition - Binghamton, NY
Black Rock Solar - San Francisco, CA
Bonneville Environmental Foundation - Portland, OR
Boston Community Capital - Boston, MA
Center for Resource Solutions - San Francisco, CA
Center for Sustainable Communities - Atlanta, GA
Clean Energy Economy Minnesota - Minneapolis, MN
Clean Energy States Alliance - Montpelier, VT
Coalition for Community Solar Access - Washington, DC
Community Housing Works - San Diego, CA
Community Power Network - Washington, DC
Community Purchasing Alliance - Washington, DC
Community Shared Renewable Energy, NY Energy Democracy Alliance - New York (statewide)
Cooperative Community Energy - San Rafael, CA
Co-op Power - Hyde Park, MA
Ecolibrium3 - Duluth, MN
Elevate Energy - Chicago, IL
Energy Alabama - Madison, AL
Energy Outreach Colorado - Denver, CO
Energy Solidarity Cooperative - Oakland, CA
Environment Georgia - Decatur, GA
Environmental Law and Policy Center - Chicago, IL
Fresh Energy - St. Paul, MN
Global Green USA - Santa Monica, CA
Great Plains Institute - Minneapolis, MN
Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance - Cincinnati, OH
GRID Alternatives - Oakland, CA
Groundswell - Washington, DC
ICAST - Lakewood, CO
Institute for Sustainable Communities - Montpelier, VT
Interstate Renewable Energy Council - Latham, NY
Metropolitan Area Planning Council - Boston, MA
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments - Washington, DC
Michigan Energy Options - Marquette, MI
Microgrid Institute - Little Falls, MN
Minnesota Renewable Energy Society - Minneapolis, MN
Monadnock Sustainability Network - Spofford, NH
National League of Cities - Washington, DC
Nebraskans for Solar - Omaha, NE
Neighborhood Sun - Silver Spring, MD
Northern Virginia Regional Commission - Fairfax, VA
Northwest SEED - Seattle, WA
RE-volv - San Francisco, CA
Rocky Mountain Institute - Boulder, CO
Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation - Ukiah, CA
Rural Renewable Energy Alliance - Pine River, MN
Solar Electric Power Association  - Washington, DC
Solar Energy Industries Association - Washington, DC
Solar Gardens Institute - Westminster, CO
SolarOne - New York, NY
Solarize NOVA - Fairfax, VA
Solstice Initiative - Boston, MA
Sun Valley Institute for Resilience - Ketchum, ID
TegDB - Richmond, TX
The Solar Foundation - Washington, DC
Utah Clean Energy - Salt Lake City, UT
Vermont Energy Investment Corporation - Burlington, VT
Vote Solar - Washington, DC

3Degrees - San Francisco, CA
A Work of Art Solar - Minnetonka, MN
Acadia Micro - Boston, MA
All Energy Solar - St. Paul, MN
Altus Power America - Altus, OK
Amazon - Seattle, WA
Arcadia Power - Washington, DC
Banner Solar - Boise, ID
Blue Wave Capital - Boston, MA
Building Science Innovators - New Orleans, LA
C2 Special Situations Group - New York, NY
Cadmus - Denver, CO
Citi - New York, NY
Clean Energy Collective - Denver, CO
Clean Energy Solutions - Boston, MA
Cliburn and Associates, LLC - Santa Fe, NM
CohnReznick LLP - Baltimore, MD
Community Energy, Inc. - Radnor, PA
Community Green Energy - Lake Geneva, WI
Connexus Energy - Ramsey, MN
Cooperative Energy Futures - Minneapolis, MN
Elemental Energy, Inc. - Portland, OR
Encore Renewable Energy - Burlington, VT
Enterprise Community Partners - Washington, DC
Ethical Electric - Washington, DC
Eutectics LLC - Minneapolis, MN
Everyday Energy - Carlsbad, CA
Extensible Energy - Lafayette, CA
First Solar, Inc. - Tempe, AZ
Green Long Island, Inc. - Farmingdale, NY
GreenMark Solar - Minneapolis, MN
Hannah Solar - Atlanta, GA
Imani Energy, Inc. - Los Angeles, CA
kWh Analytics - San Francisco, CA
Lotus Engineering and Sustainability - Denver, CO
Meister Consultants - Boston, MA
MN Community Solar - Minneapolis, MN 
Navigant Consulting - Washington, DC 
Nexamp - Boston, MA
Next Step Living - Boston, MA
Novel Energy Solutions - St. Charles, MN
Nuance Energy Group Inc. - Santa Cruz, CA
Pfister Energy of Baltimore - Baltimore, MD
Placer Consulting Services LLC - Chattanooga, TN 
Posigen - New Orleans, LA
ProjectEconomics - Brooklyn, NY
Razor Sharp Solar - Littleton, CO
Reneu Energy - Jersey City, NJ 
Renewable Energy Districts - Honeoye Falls, NY
Renewable Energy Partners - Hockessen, DE
Renewable Energy Services - Honokaa, HI
Seminole Financial Services - Belleair Bluffs, FL
SolarCity - San Mateo, CA
Solar Holler - Shepherdstown, WV
Solar Land Solutions LLC - Cary, NC
Solar Site Design - Nashville, TN
Spear Point Energy - Aspen, CO
Sundial Solar Power Developers, Inc. - Jackson, MS
SunPower Corporation - San Jose, CA
SunShare - Denver, CO
Sunswarm Community Solar - Oakland, CA
Sunvestment Group, LLC - Cortland, NY
Sustainable Capital Advisors - Washington, DC
Syncarpha Capital - New York, NY
Tralee Capital Partners - Greenwood Village, CO
United States Solar Corporation - Norwalk, CT
Upepo Group - Salisbury, MD
Vermont Community Solar, LLC - Putney, VT
Vivint Solar - Lehi, UT
West Monroe Partners - Chicago, IL
West Virginia Solar Systems - Charleston, WV
Winn Companies - Boston, MA
Yeloha - Boston, MA
YSG Solar - New York, NY
Zolargo Energy - Oakland, CA

If you are interested in learning more about the Partnership activities, send an email to solar.community@ee.doe.gov.

Key Impacts

Knowledge Transfer

  • As a fledgling approach to solar deployment, community solar has much to gain from open collaboration and identification of new markets and opportunities
  • The partnership facilitates information and best practice sharing between the community solar industry’s leading players as well as governmental organizations, financial institutions, and nonprofits, with special attention given to common challenges and expansion to new solar markets (both geographies and customer segments)
  • National Labs and other DOE partners conduct important solar research, which could benefit partners and the community solar industry as a whole

 Low and Moderate Income (LMI) Households

  • Despite the fact that LMI households have the most to gain from installing solar—electricity costs make up a larger fraction of their budgets as compared with more affluent households—LMI households have seen far less solar penetration than their wealthy counterparts
  • Historical  solar business models required homeownership, a suitable roof, and good credit ratings, while much of the LMI community are renters living in multifamily units with limited access to capital

Events and Workshops

The Partnership held four regional workshops in Denver, Atlanta, Boston, and Minneapolis in 2016 to help participants identify strategies to catalyze community solar projects and engage low and moderate income households in specific regions. Workshops featured national experts, state and local officials, industry representatives, utility providers, environmental justice advocates, and other key players who shared success stories, discussed common challenges and goals, and offered troubleshooting advice.

Additional Resources