Over the years, a segment of the industry has emerged as what has been referred to as the fourth vertical for solar. It’s not just a phenomenon in the United States, but worldwide, and it’s called Community Solar. Community solar is the model where community members can collectively purchase clean electricity from a central offsite solar array, and this model has been gaining massive attention and momentum of late, offering an option for equitable access to clean energy while helping to reduce carbon emissions and promising to keep energy prices low for consumers. But is it really different from any other type of solar energy project? Perhaps more importantly, what does it mean for you as we embrace this clean energy revolution?

We’ve dedicated this series to those of you who are trying to figure out “is this right for me, is this right for my company,” and “what decisions do I need to think through before I can actually throw my hat in the ring for community solar?” In this new mini-series, we’ll navigate the inner workings of what has been hailed as the fourth vertical in the solar industry.

Consider this your Community Solar 101.

This five part series presents unique perspectives from industry experts on how each of us might consider the role of community solar in our business, career or even neighborhood. Does it really provide equitable access to solar energy? Will it live up to the hype and hope? Or is it too good to be true?

In this Episode One, we’ll hear from Jeff Cramer, Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Solar access, also known as CCSA, which Jeff co-founded in 2015. Jeff and I go deep into the history of how community solar came about as well as the policies, both at a federal and state level, that have supported this sector’s growth. We’ll also hear from David Sandbank, Vice President of distributed energy resources at NYSERDA. David has been instrumental over the last few years in ushering in a slew of policies at NYSERDA, and has been a huge proponent of community solar. David gives us some insight into the latest legislation that was introduced to get New York to 10 gigawatts of community solar.

This Community Solar series is a production of SunCast Media and is brought to you in partnership with EDP Renewables, North America.