MEA, Your Green Edge for Buying Local
Jan 28, 2014

A Municipal Energy Aggregation plan is a big step forward for any community. By working together, combining the purchasing power of the entire community, everyone wins with lowered costs for their electricity. But that’s only the first step. Communities can take another giant step forward by including renewable energy components as well. And one of the most efficient and community minded way to do this in through the development of a Community Virtual Solar Garden; a turnkey program for local ownership of clean energy.

A Community-Owned Virtual Solar Garden

A 2008 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that only 22 to 27% of residential rooftop areas are suitable for hosting an on-site photovoltaic (PV) system once you adjust for structural, shading, or ownership issues of the building. But having a local Community Owned Virtual Solar Garden means everyone can participate – even if they rent or have solar shading issues at their home.

A Community Owned Virtual Solar Garden:

  • Expands the solar market to include renters, shaded roofs and other issues that otherwise stop solar participation.
  • Reduces the cost of participation due to economies of scale in the equipment procurement and installation.
  • Can create a buy-in with more of the community coming together to create a sustainable economy for their future.

Purchasing their own solar panels as part of a local Community Owned Virtual Solar Garden means residents have a long-term hedge against rising electric prices for the next 20 to 30 years. Because our partners monetize the Investment Tax Credit, they get a discount on the cost of panels, and the combined purchasing power of the community provides up to 50% savings over the cost of installing solar on an individual home.

In addition, a Community Owned Virtual Solar Garden keeps the revenue of the electricity within the community. Buying Local within a community means the money is spent and then re-spent within that defined geographic area. This creates a 3 to 4 multiplier effect on the local economic impact within the community, thus initiating local economic regeneration. So instead of outside investors or a utility company owning the energy project and sucking the monthly electricity expenditures out of the community, the Community-Owned Virtual Solar Garden keeps the investment and the income within the local community. Buy Local and Generate Local Clean Energy!

And best of all, the “Buy Local Clean Energy” movement not only provides the local economy with a greater financial turnover, but serves additionally as a job creator for construction and operation.

Hosting a CO Virtual Solar Garden on your building offers you an opportunity for positive PR as well as integration into the community.

Although a community-owned project seems simple on the surface, it is a complex undertaking involving site procurement, selling the electricity, structuring the ownership, set up, ongoing billing and accounting, engineering, procurement and installation of technology, maintenance and the legal documents and filing required to keep the state, federal, SEC and IRS happy.

AUS, in Partnership with Community Green Energy (CGE), can implement our Community-Owned Virtual Solar Garden Turnkey Program for your community! The steps we follow to build your Community Owned Virtual Solar Garden are part of our turnkey package.

Community Green Energy - Steps in hosting and developing a Community Virtual Solar Garden

As the local Partner, you market to your customers, residents and fellow companies to join the community’s locally owned Solar Garden. By joining the CO Virtual Solar Garden, the members actually own part of the local clean energy power plant and save money by selling that electricity to the host site. The Solar Garden can continue to grow, allowing members to buy as little or as much solar energy equipment as they choose.

Our CO Partner Program is open to your city, a host building, environmental groups, schools, property managers or any organization interested in creating a locally owned clean energy project for their community. Even better, our CO Partner Program gives back a share of the project’s revenue to the sponsoring organization.

Contact Alternative Utility Services to get a Community Owned Virtual Solar Garden built in your community for a sustainable new economy.

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