Community solar plants are emerging as an alternative for consumers who don't own their homes or for homeowners who can't afford their own system or have roofs that won't accommodate solar panels.
Several states have moved on legislation that enables consumers to get solar power from a common system shared with other consumers.
Community solar initially began like a community garden — people who couldn’t put solar panels on their roofs came together and used land nearby to put up a solar power plant, said Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage, an Expedia-like online marketplace which helps consumers choose from various solar options. Now, the concept has grown into a business with companies offering subscription or leasing plans at prices that are up to 15-percent lower than utility rates, he said.
About 49 percent of U.S. households would like to go solar, according to GTM Research, but can’t because their roofs are unable to accommodate solar panels; they don’t own the house, or can’t afford to invest in a solar system.