Study: Community Solar Poses Significant Opportunity For Connecticut

During a press conference on Wednesday, Connecticut state lawmakers and clean energy advocates presented a new report revealing the local jobs and economic benefits that could result from community solar.

The report, “Community Solar: Ready to Work for Connecticut,” shows how a 200 MW statewide community solar program could spur 2,580 full-time jobs in 2018. It also highlights more than $370 million in total local economic benefits for the state, as well as more than $6 million from property tax revenue in the first year of operation.

As nonprofit Vote Solar explains, community solar gives families, businesses and local institutions access to the benefits of solar without hosting it on their own roof by allowing subscribers to “plug in” to small local solar projects and receive credit directly on their utility bill. The report, based on a National Renewable Energy Laboratory economic model, assumes Connecticut’s legislature enacts enabling legislation in 2017 and says a 200 MW community solar program would be enough to power more than 20,000 homes with clean energy statewide.

“Connecticut is missing a critical opportunity to grow green jobs – good-paying jobs – by failing to embrace community solar projects across the state. We’re frittering away years of momentum on solar installations by sticking to a failed pilot program. Now is the time to correct course and return to sound policies, including a statewide community solar program, which will once again make Connecticut an attractive state for solar projects,” said State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport.

“While Connecticut legislators work to resolve state budget challenges over the next few months, here is a major opportunity to more than double its solar workforce through a community solar program,” said Sean Garren, Northeast director at Vote Solar. “This jobs and economic development report highlights the workforce and private investment opportunities of statewide community solar, and we hope lawmakers take advantage of clean energy as a tool for state prosperity during this summer’s special legislative session.”

“In Hartford, we are trying to expand the availability of quality, affordable solar energy,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin in a prepared statement. “I encourage state leaders to support community solar so that underserved communities can participate in the clean energy economy.”

State Rep. Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, D-Fairfield, said, “The General Assembly struggled this year with creating a bridge from nuclear power to a clean energy future. Community solar mitigates this challenge by dramatically accelerating along the road to renewables. This program gives real access to solar with all of its benefits to many more consumers.”

“Vote Solar’s report confirms that a full-scale community solar program would not only promote equal access to clean energy, but would also add high-wage jobs and generate millions of dollars in property tax revenue and economic benefits,” said Claire Coleman, climate and energy attorney at Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “Many other states already benefit from community solar programs. It is time for Connecticut’s leaders to stand up for a clean energy future that will bring both economic and health benefits to Connecticut residents.”

The report is available here.

Photo courtesy of Vote Solar’s website


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