What Will It Take to Make Community Solar a Success?

What Will It Take to Make Community Solar a Success?

When you think about the prospect of community solar becoming a reality across America, it’s hard not to get excited – because community solar may be the key to making consumer and commercial audiences finally, truly embrace solar in a big way.

But who’s the ideal residential customer for community solar? The ideal business customer? And what do those people really want from a community solar program?

We’ve got a hot new report on this very topic: What the Community Solar Customer Wants, published in partnership with the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), made possible by a Solar Pathways grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and based on a fresh survey of more than 2,000 American consumers and 250 business decision makers.

The term “community solar,” if you aren’t familiar with it, refers to large-scale arrays managed by utilities or solar providers, shares of which are sold to residential and business customers through a variety of program models.

Community solar may legitimately be the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to making solar participation mainstream for a large number of Americans. It can bridge the gap in places where rooftop options aren’t possible, or for people who just don’t want the hassle (or maybe even the look) of having their own rooftop system. And if you’re a utility, there’s an especially appealing angle: community solar satisfies your customers’ expectations that you finally get serious about renewables.

So it’s a potentially huge win – or it would be, except that Americans barely know community solar arrays (or “solar gardens,” or “solar farms”) exist.

Only a paltry 14% of consumers are seriously considering signing up, and some arrays built by utilities have sat collecting dust instead of selling out. Which is kind of crazy, considering how much Americans love the idea of solar, a fact that our Pulse research has borne out year after year.

That’s why we dug into what Americans know about community solar (not much), who’s really interested (you might be surprised) and what they would love to see in a community solar program (we tested individual program components and used conjoint analysis to see what really moves customers to buy). The result is a FREE comprehensive community solar customer insight report that lays out all the most effective angles for educating consumers and business decision makers on this relatively new solar option – and moving them to sign up.

We cover …

  • The ideal target audience for community solar
  • Who prefers a lease and who prefers a subscription/rate plan
  • Whether array visibility matters
  • Whether participation fees turn customers off
  • Whether and how they want to be recognized for participating
  • Which program sponsors and terminology customers prefer
  • How big the potential market is for both residential and commercial community solar

And most important of all: the packaging, pricing and messaging that will get you the greatest buy-in for each target.

There’s tons of great information here to get you on your way to establishing a successful community solar program. And don’t be shy about giving us your feedback! We believe this report is a jumping-off point for a meaningful dialogue about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to community solar.

Get started reading right here, and let me know what you think.


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Posted on

August 11, 2016

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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