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Utilities conduct their own inspections on solar PV systems before the system can be connected to the grid. To save time for both property owners and solar installers, utilities can be notified once a solar system has been permitted.
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Community or shared solar is mechanism for community members who are unable to install solar on their home and business to benefit from renewable energy. Utilities are key to projects as community solar interfaces with utility grid and billing infrastructure.
UE-3a Utilities can be partners in encouraging renewable energy development. Utilities could offer solar programs or incentives to complement local government goals, and also serve an important role in outreach.
UE-3b Collaboration with external partners can provide resources, expertise, and staffing support for cities to achieve ambitious energy transformation goals. Rather than individual municipalities making efforts alone, a collection of municipalities working together is more likely to have more leverage and influence on the utility. Networks of municipalities and utilities can provide opportunities to share best practices and common strategies through peer-to-peer learning. They can also help build coalitions and advocate for state policy.
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After reviewing utility interconnection procedures, local governments can work to consolidate inspections and coordinate with the timing of utility interconnection inspections. Reducing the number of inspection trips can save time and money for installers and property owners.
UE-5a Community solar programs offer groups of residential customers to own or lease a portion of the project in exchange for economic benefits proportional to their share. These economic benefits are most commonly delivered in the form of electricity bill credits. As of 2017, investor-owned utilities had implemented 13 community owned solar programs nationally. Often to be successful, the program must engage and excite customers rather than just fitting into the utility’s normal business model.
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UE-5b Utilities can offer solar programs for rooftop solar PV and community solar projects. These programs can provide a pathway for residents who would not normally be able to access or install solar PV on their home. Local governments can provide programmatic and outreach support to local utilities pursuing programs.
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