What is Community Solar?

Community solar is a model for sharing the benefits and ownership of solar energy systems. Such models can have transformative social, economic, and environmental potential—creating expanded opportunities for marginalized communities to access renewable energy. However, community solar can deepen inequities if it doesn’t address distributive, procedural, recognition, and restorative justice.

IEJ developed this resource to support the development of community solar that advances energy justice. This primer offers a definition for equitable community solar based on three criteria:

  1. Allocating energy and benefits from one solar system to multiple customers;
  2. Intentionally focusing on benefiting marginalized communities; and
  3. Prioritizing local community governance and ownership.

In addition to offering a definition for equitable community solar, IEJ analyzed thirty two community solar projects across the United States. This primer features four of these projects, highlighting how they satisfy the requirements of equitable community solar. The primer identifies three challenges to replicating and scaling successful projects, emphasizing the necessity for customized approaches to equitable community solar projects.