Community solar gardens are a means of putting the solar energy generating concept into action beyond individually owned residential or business projects, according to The Salisbury (NC) Post.
The idea, as the name suggests, is for a number of businesses, families or other groups to join to use the output of a solar array. Each owns shares dependent on their investment. The management of the garden works with the utility to deduct the amount from the members’ electric bill commensurate with the solar power created and the shares owned by that member.
The commentary, written by Francis Koster, cites a 3.2 MW garden that is being developed in Austin, TX and one in Colorado. In Colorado, several school districts have joined to create a community solar garden miles away from the districts. The piece says that 29 firms in 24 states are jumping into the business, though none are mentioned.
The Tri-County Electric Cooperative and the Minnesota Clean Energy Researches Teams run a community solar garden in Rushford, MN. The garden, which opened in July 2014, originally produced 40 KW. The story at the Post Bulletin says that community demand has led to almost doubled the output, which now stands at 73.8 KW.