Arcadia Power: An Innovative Way to Increase Solar Accessibility
Through The Solar Foundation’s acclaimed research products, like the National Solar Jobs Census, we document the economic and jobs impact of the solar industry. Programs like SolSmart enable The Solar Foundation to work with communities across the country to encourage the adoption of solar energy. But to reach new areas of potential impact — where we have not yet developed programs — The Solar Foundation partners with organizations that help to lift barriers and make solar power accessible to more people.
In the course of our work, we’ve found that while solar is becoming increasingly popular — and the cost of installing and maintaining a solar system becomes more and more affordable — solar remains an inaccessible service for large segments of the population. Shading, age, and poor orientation make some roofs simply unfit for solar systems, while renters — and multi-family residents — often cannot install their own solar panels.
For many of these people, the solution lies in shared — or community — solar, which creates an opportunity for everyone to subscribe to a portion of a shared solar system. Power from these systems is then divided and distributed to these subscribers, usually through some form of credit on their utility bills.
However, even with the increased convenience of community solar programs, this form of community solar might still not work for everyone. For example, frequent movers are not likely to able to continue using their part of a solar system should they move outside of that utility territory, and they may have to sell their share or pay an early exit fee if they are subscribed.
That’s why The Solar Foundation is partnering with Arcadia Power to expand access to solar. In its basic form, Arcadia Power works like a regular shared solar program, where consumers can benefit from solar panels without having to physically install them on their roof. The principal difference is flexibility: An Arcadia Power subscription allows consumers to continue using their account almost anywhere they move in the country thanks to their relationship with over one hundred utilities. Users subscribe to Arcadia Power’s “Portable Panel” without concern for whether their energy credits were produced in their current utility’s territory because Arcadia Power provides the solar energy credits as a dollar value and not a kilowatt-hour value. That means solar is helping subscribers pay their utility bills without a roof, without significant financial hurdles, and without concern for their future moving plans.
Arcadia Power is one great example of an innovative way to make solar energy more accessible across the country and help more people go solar. You can find out more about Arcadia Power and other partner programs at http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/gosolar/.