Infocast Community Solar 2016: Community Solar Entering the Solar Industry Mainstream
Last week, Infocast, a leading renewable energy conference producer, put on the first ever community-solar-centric conference. While most solar energy conferences feature community solar through speakers or workshops, this is the first solar conference to be centered solely on community solar energy as a market. This is huge for community solar, as the nascent market has previously been seen as a fringe to the larger industry. Though community solar has been around for less than a decade, its growth has skyrocketed.
Community solar is unique in the solar industry in that each state essentially has its own market with its own set of policy and regulatory rules. There are only about a dozen states in the nation with some sort of community solar framework, and another dozen states with utilities developing their own small, one-off projects. The states with the most robust activity and the most potential for a flourishing community solar market, are states with policy frameworks to support such activity, like Colorado and Minnesota.
Because every state is so different, they each bring their own unique set of challenges to overcome. In every state, there is a different set of policies and regulatory rules to abide by, and of course, the population to which a company is marketing is distinct. Product offerings and business models can take on varying shapes and sizes.
Therefore, it can be hard to navigate for companies newly entering the market. SunShare is one of only a handful of solar energy companies working purely in the community solar space, allowing our team to be focused experts on policy, development, financing, and sales and marketing; and there are not many solar companies that can claim that.
SunShare’s own Karen Gados, Chief of Staff to the CEO, and Zachary Friedman, Director of Transactions, spoke at the Infocast Community Solar conference about community solar policy across the country and customer acquisition strategies, respectively.
States with supportive community solar policy include California, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, and New York. These states are taking cues from each other on best practices, but each state requires special attention and consideration.
In addition to the policy complexity, customer acquisition has its own flavor in each market. Traditional marketing and customer acquisition strategies may not yield the same results when marketing a community solar product. Because it is such a new concept, education and specific messaging are key to engaging consumers.
Community solar takes creativity, finesse, and diligence. SunShare is one of the first community solar companies in the nation, so our team has witnessed the exponential growth and attention the market has taken on. That is why we are not only continuing to redefine how consumers access the benefits of solar energy, but we help other entities create their own community solar programs through development and sales and marketing practices, and we look forward to growing an innovative market that makes solar energy accessible to everyone.