Community Solar – Getting into Solar as Part of a Group

Solar energy is one of the most popular and beneficial alternative and renewable energy sources. A solar panel system, however, can also be a large financial investment – one that some homeowners in Canada can’t afford. Fortunately, there are programs that allow group ownership of solar power systems. This group ownership offers individual and community benefits. In fact, most group ownership or ‘co-operative solar’ is designed to add value to a community by making the homes or businesses there more energy efficient.

Types of Community Solar Power Ownership in Canada

There are three options for co-operative solar; individual, group and community ownership. The features of the different types of co-operative solar power ownership are as follows:

  • Individual ownership – With this ownership model, a solar project can be co-owned by businesses and homeowners in a community. Everyone involved in this project reaps the financial rewards of having solar power.
  • Group ownership – Businesses and homeowners also co-own a solar power system in this model. However, they only share the photovoltaic (electric) energy produced by the system. Unfortunately, this option isn’t currently available to residents in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
  • Community ownership – With this model, a large solar energy project is owned by the entire community, whether it be a municipality, town or city. The community uses the power produced. Plus, the solar energy is used to power the municipal building or community centre.

How Homeowners Can Bring Co-Operative Solar into Their Communities

Co-operative solar programs make solar energy more accessible and affordable, but they aren’t available in every community. Fortunately, there are some things homeowners and other community members can do to bring these programs to their communities. For example, you could write proposals to homeowners’ or community associations. You could also write a letter to your MLA showing your interest in and support of community, alternative energy programs. Propose installing solar photovoltaic systems on community-owned buildings. Finally, survey your neighbours to find out their opinions and willingness to participate in co-owned solar power systems.

Benefits of Co-Operative Solar

If you know how solar power works, you know that solar power systems have many benefits. They’re energy efficient, can greatly reduce or eliminate energy costs, are easy to maintain and so much more. However, co-operative solar power systems can be even more beneficial. For example:

  • Co-owning a solar power system is cheaper than investing on your own
  • Co-operative solar power can make many homes and businesses in an area energy efficient
  • More renewable energy is cleaner and more environmentally friendly
  • Homeowners aren’t the only ones that reap the benefits of community solar power. Business owners, your municipality, city or town and the country also benefit from co-operative solar programs

To learn more about community solar programs and how MiEnergy can help, get in touch with us.