Resource roundup: Community Solar Garden reports, tools, videos, and more


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Community solar garden resources

This past spring, thanks to support from the University of Minnesota’s Central Region Sustainable Development Partnership, Central CERT Coordinator Sarah Hayden Shaw had the opportunity to work with Connor Schaefer, a Masters student at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Connor did all sorts of research for CERTs on community solar gardens, and we wanted to take an opportunity to share a compendium of resources that Connor compiled. Enjoy!

  Community Solar Garden Resource Guide

There is a wealth of information regarding community solar gardens available from various sources, including many that we at CERTs have helped to create. Thanks to Connor Schaefer’s work, we now have a categorized compilation of resources in Guides & Reports, Articles & Websites, Tools & Resources, and Videos from other national sources like the National Renewable Energy Lab and Smart Electric Power Alliance (formerly Solar Electric Power Association). Many of these resources are terrific for utilities and communities thinking about how best to move forward with a community solar garden project. Please let us know if you have other resources to add my emailing us.


Guides & Reports

Community Solar Program-Development Landscape: A Brief for Utility Program Designers
Community Solar Value Project

A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private and Nonprofit Project Development
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Community Solar: Obstacles and Opportunities
Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR)

Utility Community Solar Handbook: Understanding and Supporting Utility Program Development
Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

Shared Renewable Energy for Low-to-Moderate Income Consumers: Policy Guidelines and Model Provisions
Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)

Community Solar Program Design Models
Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

Accelerating Adoption of Community Solar
Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

Utility-Scale Solar: The Path to High-Value Cost-Competitive Projects
Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)


Articles & Websites

Better on the Roof?
ILSR: Compares rooftop to ground-mounted community solar projects.

Frequently Asked Questions about Community Solar
Solar Gardens Institute: Colorado-based nonprofit, one of the main advocates for community solar in the US.

Shared Renewables / Community Solar
Solar Energy Industries Association: Overview of community solar in the US.

Key considerations in choosing a community-owned solar garden
EnergySage: Things you should consider when choosing how and where to invest in solar.


Tools & Resources

CERTs Community Solar Garden Resources
Collection of resources related to community solar in Minnesota including map of all programs, factsheets, decision making tools, and frequently asked questions.

Clean Energy Project Builder
Search for CSGs based on utility, availability, and county location.

CERTs Local Government Community Solar Toolkit
Created by CERTs to help cities, counties, and other local governments get involved with community solar.

Minnesota Solar Suitability App Interactive map showing solar potential on a large scale across Minnesota using Lidar data and GIS technology.

NREL’s Community Solar Scenario Tool
Calculator tool that allows communities to asses viability of projects.

NREL’s Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator
Calculator for both utility-scale and distributed generation renewable energy technologies.

Community Power Network
Provides assistance and advice about starting up a community solar project

Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker
Contains information on energy legislation in all fifty states, which can be sorted by state, keyword, and policy area.



NREL Scenario Tool
Community solar scenario tool introductory video.

Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES)
Alan Wernke of Innovative Power Systems discusses the state of Solar Energy in Minnesota.

National Information Solutions Co-operative (NISC)
Hear co-op representatives talk about the community support, cost, installation, operations and partnerships.

Just Community Solar: A Story of Faith in Action!
People come together to address economic disparities through community solar gardens in Minnesota.

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    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission