The U.S. Department of Energy defines a community solar project as one that has multiple subscribers who receive benefits on utility bills that are directly attributable to the project.

Shared Solar

Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia
Credit: SUN and ASES

According to analysis by the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL ), nearly 50% of households and businesses are unable to host rooftop solar systems.

Expanding access to community solar options helps connect more Americans with clean energy options for the first time. Community solar allows renters, condo owners, and homeowners alike to access solar energy regardless of where they live or the suitability of their rooftop. This allows more people to offset their monthly energy bills with clean energy while increasing their community’s resiliency, enhancing workforce opportunities and spurring economic development.

In 2020, Virginia passed laws to create new “shared solar” programs, established new sections in the Virginia Code under § 56-594.3 and § 56-585.1:12. The Shared Solar Program will provides customers of Dominion Energy Virginia the opportunity to participate in offsite, or front-of-meter (virtual) shared solar projects, while the Multi-Family Shared Solar Program provides eligible multi-family customers of Dominion Energy and Kentucky Utilities (Old Dominion Power) the opportunity to participate in onsite, or behind-the-meter solar projects.

Shared Solar

A volunteer for GRID Alternatives helps to prep panels for an installation on a Habitat for Humanity development
Photo by Kate Costa

In addition, many electric cooperatives in Virginia are offering community solar programs, which are similar to, but structured and regulated different from “shared solar.” Finally, Dominion Energy has a separate “Community Solar Pilot” program that will be offered as a separate rider on customers’ existing bills. More information on each is linked in the Resources section to the right.

All of these programs aim to increase Virginia customer access to the benefits of solar energy.

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