The report shows that well-designed community solar projects can result in increased crop and clean energy production. That community solar projects can also result in other benefits, such as protecting soils and providing habitat for many important species.
“Policymakers should strongly encourage these project designs,” said David Gahl, SEIA’s senior director of state policy for the East. “By following these steps, community solar developers, landowners and communities can work together to ensure the benefits of clean, locally produced solar energy are shared by all stakeholders.”
The report starts with the concept that community solar systems should be designed so they result in ecosystem and agricultural benefits.
Then, SEIA recommends policymakers deploy the existing well-established tools to avoid, minimize and/or mitigate any environmental impacts associated with community solar construction. Saying that for decades, builders seeking federal, and in some cases state approvals, have been required to assess the environmental impact of their proposed projects, and develop alternatives that address environmental concerns.
Adding that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and meet aggressive renewable energy goals, states need to build significantly more community solar projects. Advising that the framework described in the report should be used by policymakers as they tackle the challenges of siting more solar projects that will help them reach their clean energy goals.
“Community solar represents an important feature of America’s clean energy future, providing homeowners, renters, and businesses greater access to the benefits of solar energy generation,” said Ethan Winter, Northeast Solar Specialist, American Farmland Trust. “American Farmland Trust appreciates SEIA’s efforts to articulate a Community Solar Siting Framework. With potentially thousands of community solar facilities to be developed across the country, effective guidelines are needed for developers, landowners and local permitting jurisdictions to advance projects that are designed to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts on our most productive farmland.”